Friends of the Earth Netherlands hands court summons to Shell

Today, the 5th of April 2019, Friends of The Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie), 6 other NGOs* and around 400 co-plaintiffs officially delivered a 236 pages long court summons to Shell at the headquarters in The Hague.

This moment marks the start of the official legal procedure in which the plaintiffs demand ambitious climate action from Shell and the end of its destruction of the climate.

17.379 co-plaintives

A year ago Milieudefensie announced a lawsuit against Shell. Dutch citizens could apply as co-plaintiffs.  17,379 people joined the case and are demanding that Shells stops wrecking the climate.


1.5°C is the upper limit

Climate change poses a serious threat to all life on earth. The UN climate panel (IPCC) made it very clear that global warming beyond 1.5°C will have catastrophic consequences. It is still possible to stay below 1.5°C, but only when immediate action is taken. CO2 emissions must go down to zero as soon as possible and at the latest by 2050. This requires a reduction in the extraction and production of fossil fuels.


Shell has no serious plans to reduce CO2

The court summons highlights Shells early knowledge of climate change and its own role in causing it. Shell acknowledges that the fossil fuel industry has a responsibility to act on climate change, and claims to “strongly support” the Paris Agreement. Nevertheless, Shell does not have serious plans to reduce its COemissions. The company continues to lobby against climate policies and invests billions in more oil and gas extraction. This is incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Shell is violating its duty of care

The plaintiffs argue that Shell is violating its duty of care by knowingly undermining the world’s chances to stay below 1.5°C. In addition, Shell is violating Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to life and the right to family life, because it continues to contribute to climate change with its investments in fossil fuels.

The demands

Milieudefensie and the other plaintiffs demand a serious reduction of CO2 emissions from Shell. To keep the chance of staying below 1.5ºC Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels and to zero by 2050.

> Legal Summons in full, translation from Dutch original

> A summary of the court summons can be found here

*The other co-plaintiffs are: ActionAid NL, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace NL, Young Friends of the Earth NL and, The Waddenvereniging. The total number of individual co-plaintiffs is 17 379.