Shell, Friends of the Earth each say European climate ruling backs their view in Dutch case

By Thomson Reuters Apr 12, 2024 | 6:29 AM

By Stephanie van den Berg

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Shell told a Dutch court on Friday that a European climate ruling against the Swiss government supported their appeal against a Dutch climate ruling because it confirmed that states and not courts should set the rules on emissions reductions.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands, however, which brought the original Shell case, said the exact opposite.

On the fourth and final day of its appeal against a landmark 2021 Dutch ruling ordering it to make much deeper greenhouse gas emission cuts than it planned, Shell’s lawyer Daan Lunsingh Scheurleer said this week’s European Court of Human Rights ruling in the Swiss case changed nothing in the Dutch one.

But he said that in Shell’s view, the ECHR decision that the Swiss government had violated the human rights of senior women by not doing enough to combat climate change confirmed Shell’s point that emissions were an issue of state responsibility.

“It does support Shell on the point that issuing a demand for emissions reductions for companies is not up to courts” but should be the domain of states, Lunsingh Scheurleer told judges.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands replied that in fact the European ruling supported their side.

“The European Court of Human Rights confirms that climate change is a human rights issue,” lawyer Roger Cox said, adding that courts have a role to ensure companies respect human rights.

In a landmark ruling that shocked the energy sector, a lower Dutch court in 2021 ordered Shell to reduce its planet warming carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels.

The order related not only to Shell’s own emissions but also to those caused by the buyers and users of its products around the globe.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Hugh Lawson)