Support for energy transition will wane if people can’t afford energy, Shell lawyer says in Dutch climate case

April 02, 2024

(Bloomberg) – Support for the energy transition will wane if ordinary citizens aren’t able to keep the lights on, a lawyer for Shell Plc argued as a crucial climate case got underway.

Lawyers for Shell said on the first day of the appeal in The Hague that a 2021 ruling ordering the oil and gas giant to slash its greenhouse gases faster had no legal basis, would be ineffective and counterproductive and could have disastrous consequences for the Netherlands.

“If people can no longer pay for their energy or that energy is no longer reliable when you press the button or want to cook food and turn on the gas stove, the support of people in the country here but also in other countries for the energy transition will be lost,” Daan Lunsingh Scheurleer, Shell’s lawyer, said in court on Tuesday.

Shell argued that when a trio of judges three years ago ruled in favour of NGO Milieudefensie and ordered that the firm must reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, it didn’t fully consider the implications for the energy transition. Shell’s lawyer said the court had failed to also take into account affordability and security of supply.

Shell, Milieudefensie and Milieu en Mens — a separate foundation which was allowed to join the legal proceedings — will present their arguments until Thursday, with the final day of trial on April 12. A verdict will likely come in the second half of the year.

Whoever loses the appeal can take the case to the Dutch Supreme Court.

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