First Shell, now it's ING's turn: Friends of the Earth Netherlands is starting a new climate lawsuit

Amsterdam, 19 January 2024 – Friends of the Earth Netherlands is starting a climate lawsuit against ING. Director Donald Pols announced this on Friday at a press conference in Amsterdam. In 2021 Friends of the Earth Netherlands won a similar lawsuit against Shell.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands is demanding that ING halves* its emissions in 2030 compared to 2019 and stops its collaboration with polluting companies that continue to put our future at risk. The demand covers all of ING's emissions, which includes the emissions of the polluting companies the bank does business with, like the oil and gas sector. ING is the biggest bank in the Netherlands and finances polluting companies with more money than all other Dutch banks.

Donald Pols: "The bank finances oil and gas companies, deforestation and heavy industry, all of which add to the climate crisis. Whether you are drilling for oil yourself, or have paid for the drill, in both cases you are contributing to and bear responsibility for the climate crisis we are currently experiencing. In 2022 the bank was responsible for at least 61 megatons of greenhouse gases, even a country like Sweden has lower emissions. This is why Friends of the Earth Netherlands is going back to court, with the support of thousands of people.**"

He who pays the piper calls the tune

 99% of ING's emissions comes from loans to and collaborations with polluting companies. Friends of the Earth Netherlands demands that ING asks a climate transition plan in line with the Paris Climate Agreement from every large corporation ING collaborates with. Friends of the Earth Netherlands is also demanding that ING no longer finances companies that start new oil and gas projects.

Pols: "He who pays the piper calls the tune. Due to ING's financing of, e.g., oil and gas companies, ING is the banker of the climate crisis. ING must insist that large polluting corporations provide convincing climate transition plans. If they fail to do so, ING will no longer do business with them."

ING is taking baby steps in the right direction, such as the recently announced modifications to its climate policy. Nevertheless, Friends of the Earth Netherlands believes this policy is still highly inadequate. For example, the bank intends to continue financing new oil and gas projects up to 2040 and is still financing far too little sustainable energy. And, most importantly: ING has no targets that guarantee that its absolute emissions will be reduced, which is necessary to minimise dangerous climate change.

Winnie Oussoren (21), chair of the Friends of the Earth Netherlands Young: "We young people are not in charge, but companies like ING, with their fossil fuel financing, are helping to ruin our world and future."

New climate lawsuit, the same legal basis

The court's judgement in the climate lawsuit against Shell is clear: large corporations have an individual responsibility to bring their policy in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. What applies to Shell, applies to all large corporations and therefore also to ING: they have a duty of care to reduce their own contribution to dangerous climate change.

Roger Cox, attorney for Friends of the Earth Netherlands: "Since the Paris climate agreements, it has been clear what politicians and big business need to do: big polluting companies must take the lead in reducing their CO2 emissions quickly and dramatically. This is the only way to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. That means big polluters like ING and Shell must also take responsibility. ING is not doing that now and Milieudefensie is rightly taking ING to task. I have every confidence that this lawsuit will succeed."

Warning to other polluters

Friends of the Earth Netherlands warns that the new climate lawsuit does not let the other 27 large polluting corporations on its list off the hook. Friends of the Earth Netherlands will continue to put pressure on them and will keep watching them. Just like last year, activists of Friends of the Earth Netherlands will attend various shareholders' meetings this year to make sure they feel the pressure. Another lawsuit cannot be excluded.


*the precise claim concerns 48% CO2 reduction and 43% CO2e reduction in 2030 compared to 2019.
* * Just like in the earlier climate lawsuit against Shell, people can support the lawsuit by becoming a 'co-claimant'. They will not be co-claimant's in a legal sense.

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Photo: Director Donald Pols and Lawyer Roger Cox. © Marten van Dijl / Milieudefensie