Foundation of ‘concerned energy users’ admitted to Milieudefensie lawsuit against Shell

The Court of Appeal in The Hague has the Environment and Human Foundation admitted to the appeal in the lawsuit of Milieudefensie against Shell, which will start on 6 June with a pre-trial hearing. Milieu en Mens (M&M) is allowed to join Shell’s side, because the foundation fears it will be disadvantaged if the court of appeal once again rules in favor of Milieudefensie.

M&M says it represents the interests of ‘concerned energy users’. If the court adopts Milieudefensie’s claim and Shell obliges the CO2Drastic reductions in emissions could, according to the foundation, lead to a sharp increase in the price of fossil fuels, such as Shell petrol. That is detrimental to its supporters, says M&M.

In May 2021, the Milieudefensie court in The Hague ruled in favor on almost all points in a sensational lawsuit against Shell. According to the judge, Shell must inform the CO2emissions, from its business operations and where possible also from its products (including petrol) by 45 percent before 2030 compared to 2019. It was remarkable that the court ordered an individual company to comply with the reduction targets from the Paris Climate Agreement , an agreement between countries. According to the court, companies have their own (legal) responsibility to reduce their emissions. Environmental organizations worldwide now use the Shell judgment as an example for their own lawsuits.

Climate itself is not up for discussion

In addition to Environment and Human Rights, the Climate Intelligence Foundation (Clintel) has also requested admission to the lawsuit. Clintel is an organization that denies climate change or at least its seriousness. According to the court Clinton wanted to “make his own arguments” to ensure that the verdict would be overturned. “For example, Clintel does not endorse the urgent need to take action to tackle climate change,” the court said. But because Clintel could not explain concretely enough what she would like to claim, the court rejected this request.

Clintel is also not allowed to join Shell’s side. According to the Court of Appeal, Clintel’s position on climate science deviates from the joint vision of Milieudefensie and Shell on the major risk of climate change for society.

Incidentally, it is not clear whether the vision of the Environment and Human Foundation differs greatly from that of Clintel. M&M was founded by an organization that calls itself ‘concerned energy users’. On her website can be read: “The judge has wrongly and without further investigation assumed that the ‘climate in crisis’ is.”

Read also this interview with Milieudefensie director Donald Pols

Friends of the Earth Netherlands is disappointed that M&M has been allowed to join the appeal. Nine de Pater, campaign manager in the Shell case, wonders exactly what the substantive consequences are. “The judge has only decided that M&M can participate and has not yet said a word about the content. We still look forward to the appeal with great confidence”, says De Pater.

The fact that Clintel’s request has been rejected is not bad for Shell. The oil company has no need for a discussion of climate science in court. Shell has no objection to the addition of M&M. Shell thinks it is important that the case is “handled expeditiously” and hopes that it will not be delayed now, according to a spokesperson.