“Let the community decide the climate,” writes Jan Paul van Soest in an opinion piece (28/6). But that’s exactly what the judge does when he convicts Shell. The judge judges on behalf of the community by applying democratically established laws and by applying broad social and scientific standards. The suggestion that the judge judge separately from the community is incorrect and undermines confidence in the judiciary.
The judge decidesIn the assessment, the court fulfills the unwritten standard of care of Article 6: 162 applicable of the Dutch Civil Code – which prohibits acting contrary to what is customary in society under unwritten law – on the based on relevant facts and circumstances, the best available science on (tackling) dangerous climate change and a broad international consensus that human rights offer protection against the consequences of dangerous climate change and that business must respect human rights ”. The judge has fourteen considerations to conclude that Shell is not doing it (enough).
Van Soest’s call to determine countries is correct, but outdated. In the plans of the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement, the temperature increases by 3 degrees Celsius. Faced with this reality, the great danger, the significant emissions of Shell, its numerous possibilities of contributing to solutions, the court judges that the companies cannot be sufficient to follow the developments and the measures taken by the States; and even if a company cannot solve this problem on its own, it still has its own task; if states and others do not prevent Shell from making its own contribution; and that the social interest of the reduction outweighs Shell’s commercial interests. I agree with Van Soest that a 45 percent reduction is too much for Shell.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of July 7, 2021