Who Won the Week (30 May 2021)

Prompt image for the Fandango's Who Won The Week prompt

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.


Author: Mister Bump UK

Designed/developed large IT systems, interrupted by a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Now mix development of health-related software with voluntary work and writing. Married, with an estranged daughter.

13 thoughts on “Who Won the Week (30 May 2021)”

    1. Yeaqh, I think when courts are prepared to say “it is our business”, that makes a difference. It’s interesting that the polluters might start getting shafted by the very things they built to protect themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a great win for this week, but still the bitter news that this win falls way short of real change. Still, glad to hear that it won’t be greed determining all decisions in regards to pollution. Who knows perhaps there is even grat positive change on the horizon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are a few cases recently where I’m hoping that the tide is changing. But I think even as I was writing this an advert telling us about an all-electric Shell forecourt came on tv. I don’t think there are any lengths they won’t go to to bamboozle the public.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Is it Shell the company, a ficticious name, that is doing the polluting or is it the people buying the products… Calling Shell the polluters is a scapegoat, like a “shell” corporation. All these laws and forcing people to use less fossil fuels through the courts, maybe convince society why they should use less fossil fuels instead of forcing them with paperwork and legal processes. Environmental law is an oxymoron.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is certainly true that Shell sells into a market and if that market did not exist, neither would Shell. So, yes, the problem lies with consumers also. But there is a role for envirmental law on both sides here, keeping both consumers and producers on the right path.

      I don’y think anybody is saying to Shell “you cannot exist” but what they are saying is “you must ply your trade without harming the planet”. And it is entirely reasonable to say that to consumers, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I tend to agree with you, but enviro law is cumbersome and doesnt always get the science right. Forcing behavior is full of inefficiencies. People should be able to make their decisions on what to consume, ideally they would be informed considerate decisions. Enviro law doesnt take all enviro factors into consideration and it would take a lot of energy to do so, what about overpopulation and people who have more than 2 kids, should the courts get involved?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think there is also a fundamental disjoint, because the only way that society is able to “persuade” good behaviouur is financially (charging for carrier bags, taxing gas etc.) where the real goal isn’t to generate revenue, but to “not pollute” in the first place.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The guy who drives downtown to give a scientific speech on ways to help the environment has the same gas tax as the guy who drives downtown to the football game to get drunk and cheer people running around in cricles. Persuading good environmental behavior would be to tax the football event not shell’s gas. Should environmentally unhelpful behavior be taxed more, if so, how much? How much energy and resources goes into figuring this out?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I think it should be optional to pay the gas tax, let the consumer decide if they want to pay the tax. This optional gas tax money can pay towards restructuring the way Shell does business.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I think you tax all. You use them as a stick to change Shell’s behaviour. You use them as a stick to change the football fan’s behavioue. You use a stick with the environmentalist, too, simply because you have to. Because there is no way to differentiate between a good cause and a bad cause.
                But I don’t think the government’s role in this is to just stand back (as it would with optional taxes). They should be promoting good behaviour. It just so happens that the only way they can do this is with taxes.


            2. How much energy and resources goes into figuring this out?

              Simple answer: Not enough.

              Your comments suggest to me that you advocate pushing the blame onto individuals (who have ‘choice’) rather than corporations. Corporations are driven by the profit motive; and, judging by their duplicitous and manipulative behaviour over decades, understand all too well that pollution is bad — but they will fight tooth and nail not to accommodate externalities because that would have a huge detrimental impact on their bottom lines.

              Most people have been brainwashed (by ‘experts’ in economic theory, disingenuous politicians and ethically retarded advertisers) into believing that all will be well if they ‘contribute to society’ by buying ever more stuff (even though it’s been proved time and again that more stuff doesn’t make one happy). We are members of a species (which I believe should be renamed ‘homo fatuus brutus’) that currently equates shiny, fast cars with status, a thing that all too many nonsensically value more than breathable air, drinkable water and edible food. ‘Choice’ and ‘the free market’ are illusions, and reality is going to bite us in the butt, all too soon.

              We’re all in this together; and we all need to urgently learn how to think outside the box. The first step is to acknowledge that there is a box.

              Liked by 1 person

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