On Wednesday, the District Court of The Hague ruled that Shell must cut its CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. This includes the emissions associated with burning oil and gas (“scope 3” emissions), and therefore, in effect, is a ruling that Shell must reduce its fossil fuel production.

The case is the first to hold an oil company liable for climate change. The ruling comes after Milieudefensie — the Dutch arm of Friends of the Earth — joined several other non-profits and 17 000 individuals to file a lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell plc. in 2019.

SEI Senior Scientist Peter Erickson wrote a letter to the court in December, concluding that a Shell-commissioned report on oil and gas production was misleading and concluding that restricting Shell’s production would help reduce CO2 emissions.

“Today’s verdict is in line with the research: if oil majors like Shell reduce their fossil fuel production, it will help reduce global CO2 emissions, as necessary to meet climate goals,” Erickson said. “Limiting fossil fuel production is a necessary step, among many, to keep global warming to 1.5°C, as agreed in the Paris Agreement.”