by Annick van Rinsum
Milieudefensie is suing Shell, and it might win. Wednesday April 4th, the Dutch environmental organisation declared it holds its compatriot royal oil company formally accountable for its substantial share in global warming.
With the help of top lawyer Roger Cox, Milieudefensie demands that the multinational changes its course, and continues its business actually meeting the Paris accords that the international community agreed upon.
Behind a façade of green innovation Shell is misleading the public while it villainously continues not only to disregard the liveability of people’s environments, but also gravely puts in danger their actual lives.
Shell itself made and published a documentary in 1991 warning the world about the catastrophic future that lay ahead if it would continue as it did. The film, Climate of Concern, addressed all the horrors of environmental disaster, with a special focus on the humanitarian crisis this would amount to.
And under Dutch law, it’s an offense to knowingly creating danger for others.
In June 2015, lawyer Cox represented the innovation and sustainability organisation Urgena and successfully sued the Dutch government on similar grounds. The judge ruled that the state was obliged to drastically change its policies to slow down climate change.
The main difference between the two cases is that the Dutch government is supposed to take care of its citizens, whereas a multinational company is supposed to maximise its own gain. Still, this gain should not cause harm to others.
Shell has been sued before, for the environmental disaster it caused in Nigeria. There, massive peaceful protests of the indigenous people living in the Niger delta led to no change from Shell, but did result in the execution of the nine leaders of the environmental movement by Nigerian military forces. The case was settled by the company putting down a big sum of money outside of court.
It’s important to hold powerful players in the world accountable. So don’t be a slacktivist. Go sue Shell. And you might as well; (yes this rhymes)
• Open a bank account at a bank that cuts down investments in polluting industries but does invest in green innovation, I mean the interest rate you get will probably not be different from any other bank, so why not
• Cut down your meat consumption
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