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Amsterdam, 29 May – Shell yesterday rejected in writing Friends of the Earth Netherlands’ demands that the company align its business activities with the Paris climate agreement, reduce oil and gas investments, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.  Friends of the Earth Netherlands will begin legal action against Shell to ensure that Shell stops wrecking our climate.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) sent Shell a notice of intent to sue the company over climate change on 4 April, giving it eight weeks to prevent litigation by meeting Milieudefensie’s demands. Since then almost 15,000 people from 70 countries have joined the climate case as honorary co-claimants and more than 11,000 people have joined the case as co-plaintiffs.

In Shell’s letter, received on 28 May, Royal Dutch Shell Company Secretary Linda Szymanski rejected Milieudefensie’s demands, saying: “I do not propose to respond in detail to the demands that you have made.” Instead, Shell points to its current climate ambition. However, a resolution to adopt emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement was rejected at Shell’s annual general meeting last week.

Roger Cox, Milieudefensie’s lawyer, said: “Shell has not bothered to respond to the demands and arguments laid out in Milieudefensie’s letter. Its business model remains on a collision course with the climate agreement. Shell reiterates the marginal steps it takes to protect the climate that we are already familiar with, but does not address what the legal action is about: stopping dangerous climate change.”

Shell claims in its letter that the courts do not provide “the right forum to advance the global energy transition”. Donald Pols, Milieudefensie director, said: “Shell has clearly misunderstood the legal system. If companies or governments act in violation of the law, then it becomes a matter for the judge. People are now increasingly seeking justice for the pollution that companies like Shell cause.”

Sara Shaw, Friends of the Earth International campaigner, said: “It is illegal to set fire to someone’s house. We believe it is also illegal for fossil fuel companies to knowingly burn our common home. Today the global call for climate justice is growing louder.”

Friends of the Earth International calls on people to join the case against Shell as honorary co-claimants.

Shell letter to Milieudefensie 28 May (downloads as pdf)

For further information contact:

Lowie Kok or Marlijn Dingshoff, Friends of the Earth Netherlands

Sam Cossar-Gilbert, Friends of the Earth International