RDS.A has been ordered by a Dutch Court (home country) to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 – just 8.5 years from now. Shell in February set out plans to gradually reduce its oil output and expand in areas including electricity and biofuels. Other big oil companies have also pledged to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and invest more in low-carbon energy amid growing pressure from activists, investors and governments but the Dutch court has ruled that those plans don't go far enough and Shell is under their jurisdiction.
Most European Oil Companies plan to reduce emissions by 2% annually, this is a court-ordered 5% and the Dutch Court is very likely to set the tone for similar action in the EU. US companies, by contrast, have done nothing at all to curb climate emissions but that may change when the Biden Administration finally has time to focus on that catastrophe (one catastrophe at a time so far).
The district court in The Hague, ruling in a case brought by environmental organizations, said its decision was based on broadly accepted United Nations guidance aimed at limiting global warming and human-rights-related law that is similar across Europe. The ruling could set a precedent, at least in Europe, that individual companies (not just oil companies) bear a legal responsibility to protect people from climate change. Companies in various industries have already grasped the ruling’s potential ripple effects, such as whether they will need to speed up plans to reduce their emissions.
Legal experts don’t expect the Shell ruling to have a big influence in the U.S. American law is likely to be less favorable to environmental groups, they said, because, unlike European courts, most federal courts haven’t recognized a constitutional right to a clean environment. Local governments in the U.S. have instead tried to use common-law nuisance claims to force companies to pay the costs of adapting to the effects of climate change. Most of those cases are pending.
Overall there are around 1,800 lawsuits related to climate world-wide, according to a database produced by Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, most of which are in the U.S. – this is why Businesses are willing to spend so much to back a party that will pack the courts with Conservative judges who are willing to let them continue destroying the environment – literally until it is too late to stop them.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in May 2021 hit the highest level ever measured, showing the global coronavirus pandemic did not decrease overall CO2 emissions despite pausing global economies for months. Atmospheric carbon dioxide hit a monthly average of 419 parts per million in May 2021, according to data from NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography released Monday. "We are adding roughly 40 billion metric tons of CO2 pollution to the atmosphere per year," Peter Tans, senior scientist with NOAA's global monitoring lab, said in a statement. 400 PPM was the critical line we passed 5 years ago and, since then we've done nothing and two major "tipping points" in Global Climate have already triggered:
The loss of the ice sheets WILL be raising the sea levels by 7 meters (21 feet) over the next 100 years with effects that will be more and more catastrophic each year. That's already accelerating the loss of Permafrost which, unfortunately, has been trapping additional gigatons of CO2 since the Ice Age – even if we reduce our own emissions to zero – the Permafrost can still keep adding to the problem. This is the evidence the courts are weighing and, even if the US, Chinese and Russian courts are willing to ignore the facts, we are still going to be subject to rulings in the rest of the World.
Exxon (XOM) has a $10Bn project in Guyana that's currently on hold over an environmental lawsuit. Last month, two citizens sued the government in the South American country’s constitutional court, seeking to block all oil production. The plaintiffs argued that the project would worsen climate change and violated the government’s legal duty to protect citizens’ rights to a healthy environment.
We'll see what kind of trend this is but, overall, I'd be careful investing in oil companies and other polluting industries. The Trump Administration may have derailed Global climate action but John Kerry and the Biden Administration have only just started their mission to get things back on track and maybe even save the World in the process. Maybe…