Court Case to Force Shell to "Reinvest" More in Renewables

Shell Oil

Shell Oil. By Catherine Hammond (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Shell’s long term policy of cultivating green friends seems to have come unstuck, with a “Friends of the Earth” lawsuit which insists that Shell re-investing 5% of their profits in renewables simply isn’t good enough.

Shell threatened with legal action over climate change contributions

Friends of the Earth Netherlands on Wednesday demanded the Anglo-Dutch company revise plans to invest only 5% in sustainable energy and 95% in greenhouse-gas emitting oil and gas.

The environmental group said this business strategy would increase the impact of climate change, especially on the world’s poorest people and those most prone to flooding. It has given Shell eight weeks to shift to a cleaner tack, after which it says it is prepared to invoke international obligations, human rights treaties and laws on hazardous negligence.

Heading the group’s legal team is Roger Cox, who led and won a landmark climate case in 2015 that insisted the Dutch government should set more ambitious emissions targets.

“This is the first case we know of in the world that seeks preventive action from a company over climate change,” Cox told the Guardian. “We are not asking for damages. We want Shell to steer away from its current course and to get in line with the Paris agreement.”

“Currently Shell and companies like it are acting like big tobacco in decades past by failing to take responsibility for the harm that they cause,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland. “Shell must now move on from its history of Earth-damaging fossil fuel extraction and play a major part in the transition to a sustainable future, to keep temperature rises to near 1.5C.”

A spokesperson for Shell said the company strongly supported the Paris agreement, “but we believe climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts.”

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Shell has given generously to green causes for a long time. Thanks in part to all the money Shell and other big oil companies have provided over the years, greens in the Netherlands and much of the rest of Europe are politically very powerful.

In the Netherlands in 2015, greens won a shock court victory – Dutch courts ruled that the government had to do more to cut CO2 emissions. The Dutch government was forced to live up to its green rhetoric. The lawyer who won that case is now coming after Shell.

86 thoughts on “Court Case to Force Shell to "Reinvest" More in Renewables

      • Forcing a company or an individual to invest in any sector of the economy, or at all, smells both of National socialism and communism

      • An open invitation to Shell Oil to relocate corporate headquarters out of the Netherlands and into the USA with the strong recommendation to cease selling gasoline and any fossil based energy source in the Netherlands…Period

      • Very much like negotiating with Hitler so he wouldn’t invade more of Europe. We know how well that worked.

      • Call National Socialism what it really is, Fascism! The production remains in private ownership, but the government tells them what and how much to produce.

      • ” It has given Shell eight weeks to shift to a cleaner tack, after which it says it is prepared to invoke international obligations, human rights treaties and laws on hazardous negligence.”
        That sounds a lot like coercion. Using threats to force someone to do something they would not otherwise want to do.
        If you have a case and have the means and motivation : sue. Making threats with “if you don’t do what I want you to do I’ll sue you” is coercion. It’s akin to blackmain, which is one form of coercion.

      • As is frequently mentioned on these comments, it is the consumers producing the CO2, not the oil companies.

        Currently Shell and companies like it are acting like big tobacco in decades past by failing to take responsibility for the harm that they cause,

        No it is not. The tobacco companies were knowingly and actively lying about the harm tobacco products were causing.

    • Kipling knew this:
      “And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
      But we’ve proved it again and again,
      That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
      You never get rid of the Dane.”

    • The oil companies should withhold selling refined fuels to the countries and areas where they are despised. Let them freeze in the dark.

  1. After Brexit I strongly recommend that the Anglo-Dutch businesses drop the Dutch parts.

  2. That right Shell. Just keep feeding the climate alarmist greenie eco-crocodile. That just gives the croc more incentive to eventually bite your head off. Remember what Churchill said about appeasers.

    • People just do not understand that feeding the crocodile just keeps it in the area until it’s tired of your piddling meals. Then it eats you and moves on. So many are totally blind to this reality.

    • Serves them right for listening to the PR department on the subject of corporate strategy. PR is appeasement central where ‘blind them with BS’ is the only chapter in the playbook.

  3. Shell: Feeding the crocodile in hopes it’ll eat you last.
    I have no sympathy for Shell. But Shell’s payments should be redirected to Salvation Army, or some org that actually helps people and does something good.

  4. Trying to befriend watermelons is a vain and foolhardy tactic. You give an inch, they take a mile. In climate wars, the only sane policy is to take no prisoners.

  5. The church of global warming requires at least a tithe of 10% to make the gods happy enough to buy oceanfront property.

    • Shell should leave Holland because Holland has gone as mad as when they had the tulip crisis.

      • Can we pay for green energy with tulip bulbs? After all, the greens are all in favor of returning the days of darkness and simplicity. They should appreciate an organic currancy, don’t you think?

    • Sure, 10% might keep them out of “royal dutch” for a bit, but they need a virtue $ignalling “plan for the future” to appease the green mob.

    • As I have often said, if the seas & oceans are rising alarmingly then why do greenalists keep investing in sea-front property?

  6. Ayn Rand’s dystopia of looters is coming true.
    Trump Should Reconsider Red Team Blue Team Public Climate Debates
    President Donald Trump and America have been on a winning streak lately not seen since Reagan. After 8 years of complete and absolute malaise, underachievement, sub-par everything and at best mediocre performance, President Trump has righted the directionless drifting ship and set America on a new course, a course of winning. American exceptionalism is finally … Continue reading

    • In many ways, co2islife, it does seem to be coming true.
      Side Bar:
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  7. When you invite a gang of thieves into your home, don’t act all surprised and hurt when they ransack it.

    • Chamberlain has suffered quite a bit from history. You will find that during the 1930s the ‘Greens’ of the time were the Pacifists. Here is a Wiki on the equivalent of the IPCC of the time:
      Chamberlain got into an impossible position by supporting the wishes of the country and his civil servants. They were all for disarmament and peace, and so he followed that policy. As a result, by the late 30s, when the policy was obviously failing, Britain had few weapons, no credible alliances, and was in no position to fight a war. Playing for time, which was what Chamberlain did, was the only thing he could do. Those who say that he should have prepared the country for war overlook the fact that he tried to do so when he was Chancellor, and was attacked for those policies. His major concern in the Treasury was finding the money to pay the USA for the WW1 war debt.
      I can see the same thing happening today. We are ruining our economies and our energy production based on idealistic and mistaken policies promulgated by activists. The politicians can do nothing while the people demand green energy, no carbon and an end to plastics. But sometime there will be a reckoning….

      • But the people in terms of the majority don’t demand green policy, especially when you ask them to pay for it. It is a tiny minority that have infected government and are able to lead the ignorant politicians along.
        An interesting situation is developing in the UK over how much of electricity costs are from government taxes given that the government are putting in place a price cap. A small energy supplier has just raised prices by 7.5% on fixed price contracts because the fix only relates to their own costs and not government costs, and they have clearly said why they have done it.

      • You also had prominent American families like the Kennedys donating to the pacifist movement in and around Chicago called the America First movement while Joe served as ambassador to Britain. Incompetence was on parade then as a stimulant for the aggressors to reach farther and faster.

  8. It’s interesting that Shell should be compared to a tobacco company. When the wind turbine craze got started in Ontario, I wrote a letter to the editor of the local daily newspaper. The Canadian wind turbine association threatened me with court action or, more precisely, they threatened the newspaper with court action for publishing my letter. The paper caved, the wind turbine association got to publish a scathing attack on me, and I could not reply. Now, doesn’t that look like the way the tobacco companies did business?

  9. The big oil companies are not stupid or short sighted. Back in the 1970s after the Arab oil shocks, oil companies started selling photovoltaic panels. Nobody, them included, could predict the future of the energy market so they wanted to be in a position to adapt to whatever eventually happened.
    Here’s a story about ExxonMobile spending a billion dollars a year on renewable energy research. That’s not appeasement, it’s taking the long view and covering their derrieres.

  10. NPR is now engaging in a bald-faced, rumor-mongering attempt to have Scott Pruitt removed as head of the EPA.

  11. Shell donates a lot of money to environmental causes, supports the Paris agreement and won’t question agw.
    Same with all the oil companies.
    They are not on your side. How do you figure you’re on their side?

    • The oil companies pay a lot of taxes, provide employment, contribute to my pension, and provide a very useful product at a good price. By what sort of blinkered, short-sighted thinking would I decide they were my enemy and join the opposition? Environmentalists provide none of things on the list in my first sentence.

  12. “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
    -Winston Churchill
    The people who run the major oil companies should consider Churchill’s quote.

  13. “Currently Shell and companies like it are acting like big tobacco in decades past by failing to take responsibility for the harm that they cause”
    It never ceases to amaze me how warmists are able to ignore the GOOD fossil fuel companies provide.
    How do they think post WWII Europe recovered?
    How do they explain the phenomenal rise in living standards globally, including incredible reductions in poverty?
    How do they think the west can afford a welfare state?
    If not through plentiful, cheap energy?

    • They know all of those things came from cheap oil, and they want to get rid of all of it… except the welfare state part, but good luck getting them to explain how they think that’s supposed to work.

  14. Shell should threaten to move its headquarters from the Netherlands to a more energy-friendly country, like the United States.The Dutch government might start missing all that tax revenue, and make some concessions to keep Shell in Holland.

  15. The plaintiffs say that the are asking for no monetary damages – If the company, any company, puts ANY of its resources into anything other than investments intended to maximize the profits (income) then the stockholders are damaged and the company officers can be charged with failing their fiduciary responsibilities. That is quite a lot of damage, especially if the stock price drops.

    • Excellent comment.
      It is going to come to the point when Public Companies subjected to these shakedowns will be forced to fight on behalf of shareholders.
      Where the circumstances permit, actions for common nuisance and conspiracy should be made against these plaintifs.
      The alternative is that the Danegeld examples mentioned here will skyrocket.

    • +10
      Judging by the lack of competitiveness of Shell stations in my area, they have been trying to pass along higher costs to consumers. So consumer protection needs a say in the proceedings. Add in more oil companies with the same underlying green loss components and you have an antitrust case against all of them with green groups as co-conspirators.

  16. Why don’t they just destroy all Shell’s US assets? US courts have already ruled ecoterrorism legal under the “necessity” defence.

  17. Many of the large international corporations, especially “big oil” have played this game, donating tens of millions to environmental groups. I even had a summary of a meeting by big corporations on how to address the threat of organized environmentalists. After reading I came away with several conclusions, first they were grossly underestimating the organized environmental community, especially how ruthless the movement was. Second they believed that by donating lots of money annually, that they would compromise the organizations, at least the leadership, because they would get addicted to the money. They truly believed that the environmental movement would fade away. They certainly failed to realize that major political actors would use the environmental movement to attack Western democracies and capitalism.

    • That’s where you CANNOT let big capitalists organise defense and long term survival against ideological threat. You need to get the government involved in the issue of suppressing these threats.

  18. Oil companies need to do more to cut CO2 emissions! The easiest way would be to stop selling their product in countries that are trying to lower there emissions. Problem solved!

  19. Shell should redirect all of that money going to the greens towards nuclear power.
    Royal Dutch Shell has already bought a company that makes electric car chargers
    and plans to install in its stations.

  20. “Currently Shell and companies like it are acting like big tobacco in decades past by failing to take responsibility for the harm that they cause,”
    Cigarette/tobacco use = increased risk for cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke
    Increasing CO2 emissions = Greening planet, record world crop production, slight beneficial warming, best weather/climate for most life in the last 1,000 years, increase in high end rain events/flooding.
    Compare this:
    To this:
    The analogy to big tobacco is a big fat false narrative. The products inhaled from cigarettes are incredibly toxic and harmful to the human body.
    CO2 is beneficial gas, on a planet that had dangerously LOW levels of it at just 280 parts per million(405 ppm is still only around half of the optimal level).
    Carbon pollution?
    Carbon is a solid. CO2 is a (beneficial) gas. Is H2O hydrogen pollution?

    • Don’t give them any ideas! You know they’ll need something scary to replace carbon with when people figure out the jig is up. Hydrogen would fit the bill! It already sounds scary, being associated with the Hindenburg disaster and all.

  21. It’s entirely Shell’s fault. 1) they choose to house their headquarters in a country infested with green NGOs. 2 they have always back down to threats. 3) they have spent €millions on pandering to the greens every need.

  22. But the reality is that, based on the paleoclimate record and the work doen with models, the climate change that we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has not control. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rational to suppor the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is zero. The AGW conjecture is based upon a radiant greenhouse effect provided for by trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere with LWIR absorption bands. Such a radiant greenhouse effect has not been observed anywhere in the solar system including the Earth. The radiant greenhouse effect and hence the AGW conjecture are both science fiction. There is no action that any of the oil companies can take which will affect climate.
    The oil companies are not the ones putting CO2 into the atmosphere. It is those that are making use of fossil fuels that are adding CO2 to the atmosphere. If is their money that is keeping the the fossil fuel companies in business. If using fossil fuels is so bad then governments should make it illegal to make use of any goods and or services that involve the use of fossil fuels. If government did that were I live most of the people would either have to leave or perrish.
    In many countries, government has no right to tell a private corporation how it must invest its profits but rather is is up to the private corporation’s elected board of directors. If a particular private company does not want to get into the renewable energy business it is their right. There are plenty of other companies in that business already..

  23. As the greens in Holland want to turn the clock back and having made the government do it now have their sights set on Shell it might be time to get rid of all those dykes and pumps that keep the sea out so they can experience what it was like before cheap reliable power generation and oil powered machinery for building.
    James Bull

  24. Appeasement doesn’t work. It only keeps the thieves coming back for more. I wouldn’t buy shell stock, or their gas, because it’s to expensive.

  25. From the article:
    ” The Dutch government was forced to live up to its green rhetoric.”
    Not so. It was a show process with an incompetent politicized judge, cowardly going along with those social justice warriors of “Urgenda”. He can afford his stupidity as a judge, completely incompetent to judge in this case, because nearly all parties involved that would influence his career are incompetent in this matter. Also he can afford this stupidity because it is meaningless, apart from some pretty hollow political implications. Yes, the politicians are paying some lip service to it for the show (as a judge can’t force their hands by law)- “we’ll study this judgment” blah blah. It is of no real consequence because this government was already well on its way with multidecadal communist style energy transition planning, more windmill fields at sea, etc.

  26. Another example where greens are admitting that renewable cannot provide energy economically. The watermelons are forced to sue a profitable company that produces products that consumers willing purchase, and use the extortion funds to prop up an industry that cannot survive without subsidy. And they are too stupid to see that you can only hold your finger in the dyke for so long, before the water wins.

  27. Countersue. Make sure they never have another penny they can call their own for the rest of their lives.
    You simply can’t placate someone whose stated intention is to destroy you.

    • I agree. The greens have become simply ignorant zealots, outraged at whatever they unknowingly dislike the sound of , who risk the health wealth and happiness of developed societies to boost their own ignorant egos, and need serious culling. Absolute maximum prejudice so they have NO money or power to influence ever again. Those corporations they attack should set aside the millions required to fund organisations whose sole aim is to destroy the green cancer on society in co-ordinated intelligence based and sustained operations, personally and collectively, by whatever means is legal – so their evil sociopathic beliefs can no longer threaten the future of our developed society. In the best commercial interests of the company shareholders and the technological development of their customer’s economy. Bankrupt, intimidate and generally ensure greens cannot get work anywhere the corporations threatened have influence, boycot and obstruct, buy and shut down their businesses whenever possible. Promote disinformation against them as they do their targets. Get them banned by government as extremists organisations they are, as in India, Russia, etc. where possible. It’s only what they have done to those good people who have tried to counter their torrent of stupid deceit regarding technology and the environment for years. They must be destroyed, as reason that benefits the majority is not their plan. Perhaps we can recreate a rational body from the ashes of the corrupt one that is actually interested in protecting the environment, versus imposing their delusional in fact ideologies on people, at their avoidable expense. Trying to change the greens is like trying to persuade ISIL to be reasonable. IMO

      • I don’t care what they say about “fascism”. I have had enough.
        I say attacks their lawyers. Defending a person accused of something is one thing, defending an organisation continuously breaking the law to push it’s product, a protection racket, is another. Lawyers should only defend past alleged cases, not continuous illegal behavior.
        We shouldn’t have to witness an organisation breaking the law then attacking the owner of a nuclear plant over trivial violation of the strictest regulation there is (stricter than pharmacy – THE domain where regulation used to serve a purpose – and finance).
        Attack the “journalists” if they are channel propaganda by integrating with the organisation PR system.
        Freedom of the press is not freedom to promote illegal operations which are promotional advertising operations. In France you cannot even alleged health benefits of smoking pots (France has no real freedom of press or of speech), that’s considered promoting an illegal activity. But promotion of Greenpiss breaking the barrier of a nuclear plant with a ram truck is OK. And we have had members of the government promoting the destruction of GMO fields, even of taxpayers funded studies of GMO plants. We have anti-GMO activists in our national institute of agriculture study (INRA).
        It’s illegal to relay ISIS propaganda; but “greens” are more dangerous than even ISIS. Why is it OK to relay propaganda made by breaking and entering in nuclear plants and GM fields?
        (Also, “GM” can mean whatever they want to mean at any point. It used to mean DNA modified by adding a gene from another specie, now it’s any “artificial” genetic modification.)

  28. Money and true “renewable” don’t fit together.
    Money is for what’s limited. What’s inherently unlimited (like the sun) is free.
    You cannot invest in renewables. You can only invest in non-renewables.

    • The sun is free.
      Getting any energy from the sun takes money, (corrupt) political connections, money, more environmental damage, money, lost opportunities and wasted money, more money, and more environmental damage as you try to store that energy for the 3/4 of each day when the sun don’t shine so good.

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