The Hague, 26 May 2021 – For the first time in history, a judge has held a corporation liable for causing dangerous climate change. Today, as a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations1 the court in The Hague ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within 10 years. This historic verdict has enormous consequences for Shell and other big polluters globally.

Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands:

“This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children and is a stop towards a liveable future for everyone.The judge has left no room for doubt: Shell is causing dangerous climate change and must stop its destructive behaviour now.”

Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands:

“This is a turning point in history. This case is unique because it is the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting company to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters.”

The ruling from the court in The Hague will have major ramifications internationally.

Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth International:

“This is a landmark victory for climate justice. Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels. This result is a win for communities in the global South who face devastating climate impacts now.”

Main points from the verdict:

  1. Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its emissions by 45% net by the end of 2030.
  2. Shell is also responsible for emissions from customers (scope 3) and suppliers.
  3. There is a threat of human rights violations to the ‘right to life’ and ‘undisturbed family life’.
  4. Shell must comply with the judgment immediately, because Shell’s current climate policy is not concrete enough.

Donald Pols concludes:

“This verdict is an enormous step forward for the international climate movement. One of the world’s biggest polluters has finally been held responsible. I am filled with hope for the future, as we know that the climate crisis does not wait and does not stop at our borders. That is why it is so important the judge is now forcing Shell to take responsibility for its actions. This is also a clear signal to the other big polluters that they also have to act now.”

Note to the editors:

1) The co-plaintiffs are: Action Aid Netherlands, Both ENDS, Fossil Free Netherlands, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of The Earth Netherlands and the Wadden Sea Association (Waddenvereniging) and more than 17,000 Dutch citizens.

District Court of the Hague:

Information about the ruling can be obtained from the Press Office of the District Court in The Hague: Mr. Gijsbert Wassinkmaat, +31 (0)6 – 528 30 471, E-mail: voorlichting.rb.den.haag[at]

Other information:

Photos, video material and interviews with director Donald Pols and lawyer Roger Cox will be available upon request via: persvoorlichting[at] or +31 (0)20 5507 333 / (0)6-46851137.

Online Press kit with updates:



Press officers Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Arjan de Boer: +31 (0)6 22398887
Jasperine Schupp: +31 (0)6 29593873
Benjamin van Sterkenburg: +31 (0)6 52682416

Friends of the Earth International spokespeople
Sara Shaw: +44 (0)7974 008 270 (until end of 27 May)
Sam Cossar: +61 413 496 570 (from 28 May)
Email: press[at]
Image: Bart Hoogveld/ Milieudefensie