Court room and boardroom force oil majors to change.

Shell has been ordered to cut emissions by a court in the Hague.

The landmark case was brought by Friends of the Earth and over 17,000 co-plaintiffs. The court has ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 compared with 2019 levels.

In a decision that will bring the company's CO2 emissions into line with the Paris climate agreement, the oil major's sustainability policy was found to be insufficiently “concrete”.

The court also ruled that Shell is responsible for emissions from its customers and suppliers, known as scope 3 emissions, and further that Shell’s activities constituted a threat to the “right to life” and “undisturbed family life,” as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

This is the first case in which a court has confirmed a duty of care for corporations in guarding against the harm and the risks of harm caused by climate change.

From the courtroom to the boardroom, the US oil major Exxon Mobil has seen the election of three climate-minded activists to its board following a small hedge fund-led shareholder revolt.

Another US company, Chevron, has seen its shareholders approve a proposal to cut carbon emissions from the use of the company’s products by its customers – emissions that are not tied directly to the company’s fuel production.

It's looking likely that an increasing number of shareholders will be taking more such actions to ensure that fossil fuel companies commit to actions to reduce the emissions from the full lifecycle of their products.