Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022


The environmental group that won a landmark court case against Shell last year warned 30 multinational companies to reduce their emissions or take legal action as pressure on the private sector to meet global climate goals increases.

Environmental Defense, the Dutch wing of Friends of the Earth, has written to companies including BP, ExxonMobil, ABN Amro, ING, Unilever, Vitol and KLM, all of which have entities incorporated in the Netherlands and have large international footprints.

“You are receiving this letter because you are running a business that controls and influences a significant amount of CO2 emissions,” Director Donald Pols wrote to CEOs on Thursday. “Action is a compulsory obligation. And system players, like your business, have a special responsibility. ”

The warning indicates that the corporate world is facing a new front in the fight against climate change, as the group defeats its Dutch court victory, which mandated Shell to reduce its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. use a precedent to force action. at other companies.

Roger Cox, the Dutch lawyer who represented Environmental Defense against Shell, told the Financial Times in December that he expected an “avalanche” of imitation cases against oil companies, banks, insurers, car manufacturers and other industries.

At the 2015 Paris climate summit, 195 countries agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit any temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, but governments have since done little to force industries or individuals to change, and global emissions continued to rise.

Peer de Rijk, policy officer at Environmental Defense, said the ruling against Shell last May showed that companies are obliged to act regardless of current legislation or consumer behavior.

“The [Shell] ruling gives us so many possibilities and it is so clear what the court says about the responsibility of the companies, ”he said. Shell is appealing against the ruling.

Environmental Defense has called on CEOs to publish a plan by April 15 to reduce all carbon emissions, including those produced by their customers, by 45 percent by 2030.

The group said it was willing to work with the companies to develop policies that comply with the Paris climate agreement and acknowledged that some of the organizations may already have climate plans in place. But it stressed that lawsuits will follow against those who do not comply.

“If they do not move [far] enough, fast enough, we will of course consider going to court, ”said de Rijk.

The Dutch borrower ING said he had received the letter and that he shared Milieudefensie’s “concern about climate change”. The bank said it intended to reduce its funding for upstream oil and gas by 12 percent by 2025 and was a member of the UN-backed Net-Zero Banking Alliance, which is committed to aligning global lending and investment activities brings with it the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trader, said he had received the letter and was ready to enter into talks with Environmental Defense. The company, which was founded in Rotterdam, has so far made no commitment to reduce emissions.

Exxon said it aims to reduce emissions from its own operations by 20-30 percent by 2030. BP declined to comment.

ABN Amro, KLM and Unilever could not be immediately reached for comment.

Additional post by Owen Walker and Neil Hume in London



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