"Three global fossil fuel giants have just suffered embarrassing rebukes over
their inadequate action on climate change. Collectively, the developments show
how courts, and frustrated investors, are increasingly willing to force
companies to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution quickly.
A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash its greenhouse emissions, and
61% of Chevron shareholders backed a resolution to force that company to do the
same. And in an upset at Exxon Mobil, an activist hedge fund won two seats on
the company’s board.
The string of wins was followed in Australia on Thursday by a court ruling that
the federal environment minister, when deciding whether or not to approve a new
coal mine, owes a duty of care to young people to avoid causing them personal
injury from climate change.
The court rulings are particularly significant. Courts have often been
reluctant to interfere in what is viewed as an issue best left to policymakers.
These recent judgements, and others, suggest courts are more prepared to
scrutinise emissions reduction by businesses and - in the case of the Dutch
court - order them to do more."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics