In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.
Poor old Shell. Only a few weeks ago I reported about how their London HQ had been targetted, yet how a jury ruled that the miscreants had been justified.
And now they’re in the news again.
Shell are vocal about the huge amount they are pumping into renewable energy. They did so in my story. Billions, they say. But they’re less keen on highlighting the amount of pollution they cause. Between 1988 – 2015, Shell were ranked as the ninth biggest polluter in the world, according to the Carbon Majors database. Or, put another way, responsible for around 1% of the world’s pollution each year.
Can you imagine that? All the millions of companies there must be across the world, all the different ways we pollute our planet, and one company is responsible for 1% of it?
Shell has a “plan” to pollute less, to become carbon-neutral one day. That’s the trend now – every company, every government has a “plan”.
But this week, a court in the Netherlands decided that Shell’s planwas not up to scratch, was so wishy-washy that they effectively have no serious plan. So the court set a target for them – cut its pollution by 45% between now and 2030! To come into line with the Paris Agreement.
I think the crux of this case was Shell’s opening defence – because Paris is an international agreement, a national court had no jurisdiction. The court disagreed. It decided that because the climate is such a universal issue, it was very much its business.
Beyond that, the court ruled that Shell fully understood the impact of its operations, and had made conscious choices which breached people’s right to life, period, and their right to family life.
Those two things are important because they are part of the European Convention on Human Rights, which, of course, the Netherlands observes. I just mention this in passing, as an example of an area where the EU makes a valuable contribution.
The ruling must be significant, because Shell said immediately that it would appeal. So, straight away, it must be something they feel they can’t dodge. I wouldn’t be surprised if some creative accounting will follow, although lots of people will be watching them – this case was brought by over 17,000 plaintifs.
The big deal, I think, is this national/international aspect, because it could apply to any big polluter which feels it can hop over a border to sidestep its responsibility. So maybe this ruling is the start, instead? Rather than nobody having jurisdiction, everybody has jurisdiction?
I think it is a good thing that polluters are held to account, but I’m afraid I will end this post with one last piece of bad news. Shell’s cut was calculated so as to bring it into line with Paris. Bad news is that Paris itself is weak, it’s a start but it doesn’t come close to providing a solution to climate change. It was based on what governments could sell to their electors, not on what the planet needs.
I’m sorry, all you Obama fans.