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Dutch Court Orders Shell to Reduce Emissions to Combat Climate Change

Yesterday, a Dutch court ruled that Shell, a company based in the Netherlands, must reduce its carbon emissions to combat climate change.  Even though Shell will appeal this decision, and although the general applicability of this ruling may be limited (a decision by a Dutch court concerning a Dutch company), it is significant in that a court has now applied the recommendations of climate science (e.g., a specific numerical target of emission reductions) to impose obligations on an individual company (as opposed to a government).  When companies consider their legal exposure to climate change litigation, this decision should figure in any such assessment. 

A Dutch court ruled Wednesday that Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, must accelerate its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change. The District Court in The Hague ruled that Shell was “obliged” to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its activities by 45 percent at the end of 2030 compared with 2019. Shell has already adopted targets for emissions reduction, but the terms of the court’s decision could require the company to substantially accelerate the process of reducing emissions-producing fuels like oil and gas.

The District Court in The Hague ruled that Shell was “obliged” to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its activities by 45 percent at the end of 2030 compared with 2019.

Shell has already adopted targets for emissions reduction, but the terms of the court’s decision could require the company to substantially accelerate the process of reducing emissions-producing fuels like oil and gas.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/26/business/royal-dutch-shell-climate-ch...

©1994-2021 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 160
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About this Author

Jacob Hupart Commercial Attorney Litigation Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo PC
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Jacob has a multifaceted litigation practice that encompasses complex commercial litigation, including cases involving securities, employment, and environmental claims, as well as class action litigation, white-collar criminal defense, and regulatory investigations. He has extensive experience handling all phases of litigation before federal and state courts, managing discovery, and conducting settlement negotiations. Jacob has represented clients in a variety of industries, including financial services, energy, education, and the media.

Prior to joining Mintz, he was an associate...

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