It is difficult to say, at first blush, how much of a difference today’s court ruling in The Hague District Court will actually make to Royal Dutch Shell’s policy on carbon emissions.
Secondly, the verdict is only legally binding in the Netherlands. The court’s demand that Shell cuts its emissions by 45% by 2030 – it is currently committed to hitting that target by 2035 – will not apply in the rest of the world.
Thirdly, it must be pointed out that this was not an absolute victory for the environmental groups that brought the case.
Crucially, the court ruled that Shell is currently not in breach of its obligation to reduce emissions – as the activists had argued – because it is currently in the process of tightening its policy on emissions.
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