Big Oil giant faces an increase in climate Lawsuit over the coming years, a trend that analysts say is reminiscent of activists turning to the courts to take on the tobacco industry. The prospect of a rising tide of climate litigation cases against heavy emitting businesses comes shortly after a landmark courtroom defeat for Royal Dutch Shell.
The Hague District Court in May. 26 ordered the Anglo-Dutch oil giant to set more emission reduction targets. It also said Shell is responsible for its carbon emissions and those of its suppliers, known as Scope 3 emissions. A Shell spokesperson said at the time that the company expected to appeal the court’s disappointing decision.
The ruling marked the first time in history that a company had been legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris Agreement and reflected a watershed moment in the climate battle. Elizabeth Hypes, senior environment and climate change analyst at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft said that they will see the ruling on Shell being used as precedent to add new pressure.A report published by Verisk Maplesoft last month found that businesses associated with oil giant and gas, coal and electric utilities were currently most at risk of climate liability Lawsuit. They described this finding as unsurprising since 83% of global greenhouse gas emissions resulted from fossil fuels in 2018.
Since the turn of the century, more than 2,000 climate litigation cases were found to have been filed in a trend that is widely expected to have global implications for carbon-intensive companies. The U.S. and EU account for 90% of climate-related Lawsuit since 2000, but cases are starting to move into new territories such as Argentina, South Africa and India, among others.