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    Shell softens tone on Dutch court ruling


The energy company wants to appear onside with the environmentalists while also protecting shareholders from faulty legislation.

by: William Powell

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Energy Transition, Carbon, Renewables, Corporate, Litigation, News By Country, Netherlands

Shell softens tone on Dutch court ruling

Following its initial response to the Dutch court ruling May 16 that set a target for cutting its emissions and those of its customers, which it said it "fully expected to appeal," the Anglo-Dutch major Shell has now softened its language.

As a company that is – along with other European international oil companies such as TotalEnergies and BP – seeking leadership of the oil company transition to net zero carbon by 2050, it has to watch its messaging. 

In her June 17 LinkedIn post, the company's country head Marjan van Loon said Shell was determined to accelerate its net-zero strategy and would rise to the challenge globally and especially in the Netherlands, "regardless [NGW's italics] of whether we appeal the ruling."

She cited the Dutch commitment to cut national emissions by "almost 50%" by 2030, while the target for Shell and its customers is now 45%, following the ruling.

She also pointed out the problem that if even Shell were to stop manufacturing certain oil products, demand for those products would still continue and the other refiners might have lower environmental standards. Better would be to convince its own customers to use alternatives to fossil fuels, such as bio-LNG or hydrogen in the heavy transport sector. But this is a matter also for government, she said, such as lowering the excise duties on low-carbon fuel.

On June 9, CEO Ben van Beurden made similar points on LinkedIn, saying that while he was disappointed and surprised that the court had singled out Shell and applied the ruling worldwide, the ruling did not mean a change but an acceleration of existing corporate strategy. He said the company did expect to appeal even though it shared the aspirations of the environmental groups that brought the case.