Sustainability Blog

Out of Their Shell

By Simon Johns - Jun 03, 2021

A Dutch court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell and its wider group of companies that it must cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels.

Although not without precedent in other jurisdictions, it’s still a landmark case since Shell must take tangible actions. The ruling could have implications for any company operating in the Netherlands.

The court ruled that on Royal Dutch Shell “rests an obligation of results as regards the Scope 1 emissions of the Shell group as well as a significant best-efforts obligation as regards the business relations of the Shell group, including the end-users, whereby RDS may be expected to take the necessary steps to remove or prevent the serious risks ensuring from the CO2 emissions generated by them, and to use its influence to limit any lasting consequences as much as possible.” 

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Across the Atlantic, stakeholders voted out two ExxonMobil board members who they considered obstacles to the Texas-based company embracing climate change and transitioning to cleaner energy – something that has been happening apace at Exxon’s European rivals.

Engine No. 1, an activist investor with a 0.02% stake, proposed two board members, one of whom, Kaisa Hietala, developed renewable diesel and jet fuels at Neste, the third most sustainable company in the Corporate Knights ranking. Engine No. 1, a tiny hedge fund with a stake in Exxon worth U.S. $50 million, declared its intentions to shake up the company in December.

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