Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) has put in motion a groundbreaking climate court case against Shell, to force the company to bring its policy in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

We are completely behind them, and if you are too, here are two ways you can support the case:

  • If you’re a Dutch citizen, you can become a co-plaintiff, which means that Milieudefensie would be bringing the case to court in your name (plus 7000+ others)
  • If you’re not a citizen of the Netherlands, you can add your voice by signing this petition

The next years will be decisive in terms of keeping the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – and the 1.5 degree warming limit that climate justice demands – within reach. Yet Shell keeps extracting more and more fossil fuels. Only 1% of Shell’s investments go to renewable energy. Milieudefensie demands that if Shell doesn’t stop causing catastrophic climate change, it must be held accountable in court.

The Greenwash Team during the Unmask Shell Parade in The Hague. Photo: Fossielvrij NL


Through recently released internal memos, reports and even a video it’s clear that Shell has been aware of the risks of climate change and its own role for more than thirty years. And they did nothing. In a report released in 1998, Shell already showed concerns about the legal consequences of its actions. Another Shell report from that same year predicted that in 2010, after a series of devastating storms on the West Coast of the USA, citizen-led campaigns and actions against fossil companies would escalate. Public opinion, according to the report, would turn against the fossil industry in a similar way as had happened to the tobacco industry.

The document, discovered by journalist Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent, also predicted that several NGOs would start a lawsuit against the company and the US government because they “ignore what scientists (including their own researchers) have been saying for years: that something needs to be done.”

Shell, get your head out of the sand! (Action by The Hague Fossil Free during the Global Divestment Mobilization in May 2017)

Global lawsuits

Their prediction was accurate. In 2017, climate court cases were started against governments or companies in 24 different countries, with 654 cases in America and 230 cases in the rest of the world (you can find a recent overview of global climate court cases here). For example, the American cities of San Francisco and Oakland demanded financial compensation from oil companies for damages due to the rising sea levels. The city of New York has filed a lawsuit against various fossil companies because of climate damage, and Paris is also exploring possibilities to start a climate court case.

With this global wave of climate litigation, people are making it clear that they are simply not willing to stand by and let the irresponsible, climate-wrecking behaviour we’ve seen from fossil fuel companies in the past few decades continue unchecked. Institutions and corporations must be held accountable for the decisions they make causing irreversible climate impacts, and we’ve got the power to make sure it happens.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands Milieudefensie announced at the beginning of April that it is starting a lawsuit against Shell. This particular climate court case is unique in the world because Milieudefensie is not asking for financial compensation, but instead for a change in policy. The organization demands that Shell stops causing disastrous climate change, and bring its policy in line with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

Why did Milieudefensie start a lawsuit against Shell?

Despite being aware of the risks for more than thirty years, Shell decided to mislead the public and actively counteract climate policy. The company emits twice as much greenhouse gas as the whole of the Netherlands!

“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we should try all ways to stop the fossil fuel industry, including by going to court. Our government, city councils, research institutions and even schools still value a good relationship with Shell over a livable future. Hopefully this court case will open their eyes. We are proud to be co-plaintiffs!”

Fossil Free The Hague with Anne and Femke, second and third from the left

To become a co-plaintiff, you’ll need to leave your details and pay €1, so Milieudefensie can check your identity. This way, you can show that Milieudefensie is starting this case on your behalf.

Join Fossil Free The Hague, and more than 7000 others co-plaintiffs in this court case

On Saturday 28 April, Milieudefensie is organizing an interactive day of trainings in Amsterdam. On this day you can participate in workshops on how to effective outreach. You can get more details about the event here.