manchester foe logo

Historic victory: judge forces Shell to drastically reduce CO2 emissions.

news release

Friends of the Earth wins climate case against Shell 

The Hague, 26 May 2021 – For the first time in history, a judge has held a corporation liable for causing dangerous climate change. Today, as a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organisations, the court in The Hague ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within 10 years. This historic verdict has enormous consequences for Shell and other big polluters globally.   
Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland said: “Anyone who thinks we should protect our one, precious planet and its people are jubilant today. This ruling confirms what we already knew, that global polluters cannot continue their devastating operations because the costs are too high, and they have been that way for too long.

“Today an historic line has been drawn, no more spin, no more greenwashing, big oil is over. The future is in clean renewables.”

“This is also for the urgent attention of the UK government, because real emissions reductions are required urgently, not offsetting or other smoke and mirrors distractions.”

Donald Pols, director of Friends of the Earth Netherlands: “This is a monumental victory for our planet, for our children and a big leap towards a livable future for everyone. The judge has left no room for doubt: Shell is causing dangerous climate change and must stop its destructive behaviour now.”  
Roger Cox, lawyer for Friends of the Earth Netherlands, is also delighted: “This is a turning point in history. This case is unique because it is the first time a judge has ordered a large polluting corporation to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. This ruling may also have major consequences for other big polluters.” 

Legal landslide  

The ruling from the court in The Hague will have major ramifications internationally, Sara Shaw from Friends of the Earth International: “This is a landslide victory for climate justice. Our hope is that this verdict will trigger a wave of climate litigation against big polluters, to force them to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels. This result is a win for communities everywhere who face devastating climate impacts now.”   

Donald Pols concluded: “This verdict is an enormous step forward for the international climate movement. One of the world’s biggest polluters has finally been held responsible. I am filled with hope for the future, as we know that the climate crisis does not wait and does not stop at our borders. That is why it is so important that the judge is now forcing Shell to take responsibility for its actions. This is also a clear signal to the other big polluters must stop wrecking the climate.” 
For more information, please contact: 
Press officers Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) 
Arjan de Boer: +31 (0)6 22398887 
Jasperine Schupp: +31 (0)6 29593873  
Benjamin van Sterkenburg: +31 (0)6 52682416 

Press contacts Friends of the Earth International  
Sara Shaw: +44 (0)7974 008 270 (UK),  (until end of May 27)  
Sam Cossar-Gilbert: +61 413 496 570 (Australia), (from 28 May) 
Notes to editors: 

  1. The co-plaintiffs in the case are: Action Aid Netherlands, Both ENDS, Fossil Free Netherlands, Greenpeace Netherlands, Young Friends of The Earth Netherlands and the Wadden Sea Association (Waddenvereniging) and more than 17000 Dutch citizens. 
  1. Photos, video material and interviews with director Donald Pols and lawyer Roger Cox are available upon request via: or +31 (0)20 5507 333 / (0)6-46851137 
  1. You can view the online press kit in two languages 
  1. DUTCH:  
  1. ENGLISH: 

Find us on



Support Us

Donate or join us using a standing order or PayPal.