fbpx ...

4 Massive Climate Rulings Prove that Big Oil, Gas & Coal Are Running Out Of Hiding Places

3 global fossil fuel giants have been on the end of embarrassing rebukes over their inaction or inadequate action on climate change. Collectively, these developments have shown how frustrated investors and courts have been increasingly willing to force organisations to lower their carbon dioxide pollution rapidly. 

A Dutch court had ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash its greenhouse emissions, with 61% of Chevron shareholders also backing a resolution to forces that company to do the same. ExxonMobil saw an upset, with an activist hedge fund winning two seats on the company’s board.

These strings of rulings were quickly followed by one in Australia recently, where a court ruled that the federal environment minister, owes a duty of care to young people to avoid causing them personal injury from climate change when approving or not approving a new coal mine.

These court rulings are very significant. For the most part, courts have been very reluctant to interfere in situations that are best left to policymakers. These judgments, amongst others, hint that courts are more prepared to scrutinise emission reduction actions by businesses and in the case of the Dutch court – order them to do more.

The Hague-based court, in what was a world-first ruling ordered oil and gas giant, Shell to lower its CO2 emissions by almost half (45%) by 2030. This is relative to its 2019 levels. The court did note that Shell had not created emission reduction targets and its only policies had 2050 deadlines. The court stated that these were “rather intangible, undefined and non-binding”.

The case was brought forward by human rights and climate activist groups. The court found climate change as a result of CO₂ emissions “has serious and irreversible consequences” and was a threat to our “right to life”. It also found Shell to be responsible for so-called “Scope 3” emissions generated by its customers and suppliers.

The upset at Chevron was an investor upset. About 61% of its shareholders backed a resolution that called for Chevron to substantially lower its Scope 3 emissions generated by the use of its gas and oil.

And just last week, ExxonMobil shareholders, forced one of the planet’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to have a dramatic management shakeup. This was carried out by Engine No.1, an activist hedge fund as it won two, and potentially three places on ExxonMobil’s 12-person board.

Engine No. 1 explicitly links Exxon’s poor economic performance to its failure to invest in low-carbon technologies.

Considering that human activity has caused the planet’s atmosphere to warm, massive fossil fuel companies have come under increasing pressure to act.

20% of companies responsible for 35% of World’s total CO2 emissions

Just 20 companies were responsible for 493 billion tonnes of methane and CO2 to the atmosphere, as a result of burning their gas, oil and coal. This amounts to about 35% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions since 1965.

Shareholders have also become increasingly concerned by the financial risk associated with climate change and that has caused them to lead the corporate accountability push. The Climate Action 100+ is another example. The movement has over 400 investors with over A$35 trillion in assets under management, working with organisations that lower emissions and improve climate-related financial disclosures and governance. 

Just last year, shareholder resolutions on climate change were put to Woodside and Santos. And while neither resolution achieved the required 75% support to pass, but they did receive unprecedented levels of support 50.16% and 43.39% of the vote, respectively.

Rio Tinto, in May 2021 became the first Australian board to publicly support shareholder resolutions on climate change.

As initially reported by The Conversation Trust (UK) Limited

Share this article on your social networks

Related Posts

5 key takeouts from the new IPCC Climate Report

The most recent 3.675 pages IPCC report has been hailed as the most searing indictment of the planet’s climate predicament. Here are 5 key takeouts.

Read More
Overwhelming majority of Australians look to Brands to make a climate difference

The research, released today at Nine’s State of the Nation Sustainability virtual event, showed that despite everyday Australians making changes to live more sustainably, the majority feel that as a country, we are not doing enough, and brands need to lead the way.

Read More
67% of retail investors now prefer ESG investments

According to new research from behavioural finance experts, Oxford Risk, two out of three retail investors are considering transferring their investments into ESG propositions.

Read More
Massive and rapid swing. 75% of Australian businesses leaders believe world is at climate change tipping point: Deloitte Report

Australian business leaders are becoming a lot more concerned about climate change. This shift is according to a new report and it shows a significant shift in opinion in just 8 months.

Read More
Climate Impact Measurement and Disclosure Growing Quickly Among Businesses

Many of the world’s biggest organisations have begun to share information concerning their carbon footprint in a new move that embraces transparency as organisations are increasingly seeing value in measuring their impact.

Read More
Explosive research for Australian businesses: people are turning down high paying jobs for 1 surprising reason

employed by a company that did not do its part to address climate change.

Read More
Australia Ranks Last Out Of 60 Nations For Climate Crisis Response Policy

Australia’s government policy response to the climate crisis was ranked last in an assessment of 60 nations released at the current global climate summit in Glasgow

Read More
The Maldives have max 80 years left: President says

The Maldives is renowned for being a great holiday destination, when the country’s name is mentioned, it inspires thoughts of …

Read More
Paying.Green® launches Carbon Easy™ – Grow your business and be on the right side of history.

Carbon Easy™ is a global initiative helping businesses up to 250 people be climate smart and access best practice and affordable climate action and carbon offsetting through a convenient online service.

Read More