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Friends of the Earth says Shell directors risk personal liability

Friends of the Earth warns Shell directors they face personal liability if energy firm doesn’t clean up its act

Shell directors risk ‘personal liability’ if they fail to boost the energy giant’s green credentials, an environmental group has claimed.

The threat to senior figures, including chief executive Ben van Beurden, was made in a recent letter from Friends of the Earth’s Netherlands branch, Milieudefensie.

It follows the organisation’s triumph against Shell last year, during which a court ordered the FTSE 100 group to reduce its overall carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.

Eco target: Shell bosses, including chief executive Ben van Beurden (pictured), have been told the energy giant must comply with a court order to reduce its overall carbon emissions by 45%

Shell, which is one of the world’s largest oil companies, has lodged an appeal against the judgment by the Hague District Court. It has claimed some aspects of the decision are ‘just not feasible’.

Milieudefensie has accused Shell of trying to avoid complying with the court order.

It has also said Shell cannot delay climate action pending the appeal’s outcome.

The letter, seen by the Mail, said: ‘Milieudefensie believes that Shell directors risk future personal liability by failing to take action in line with the global universal goal of almost halving worldwide C02 emissions by 2030.’

The environmental group called on Shell’s hierarchy to urgently ‘reconsider its position’ and ‘stop informing stakeholders incompletely and inaccurately’ about its current energy strategy.

Shell’s major investors also received a copy of the letter.

The company said the letter outlines Milieudefensie’s ‘own views’ on its compliance with the ruling. 

A spokesman said: ‘The court gave Shell a broad discretion as to how to meet the reduction obligation by its 2030 deadline. Our strategy and the actions we are taking position us well towards meeting the court’s obligations.’

Shell rolled out climate targets last year that will require it to cut absolute operational emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, but this does not apply to customer use of its products.