On 26 May 2021, the District Court of The Hague (The Netherlands) passed an innovative judgment in Milieudefensie v Royal Dutch Shell. The Court interpreted Shell’s duty of care towards the inhabitants of the Netherlands as requiring it to mitigate climate change by reducing the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from its global operations by at least 45% by 2030, compared with 2019. This case comment salutes the identification of a corporate duty of care for climate change mitigation but expresses scepticism regarding the Court’s interpretation of this duty. The Court’s reading of global climate mitigation objectives and climate science, which form the basis of its determination of Shell’s requisite level of mitigation action, is plagued with inconsistencies. It is argued here that, in order to determine the standard of care applicable to Shell, the Court should have relied not only on a ‘descending’ reasoning as to what ought to be done, but also on an ‘ascending’ reasoning accounting for industry practices.
Mayer, Benoit, The Duty of Care of Fossil-Fuel Producers for Climate Change Mitigation: Milieudefensie v Royal Dutch Shell, District Court of The Hague (The Netherlands) (April 7, 2022). Transnational Environmental Law (forthcoming).