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Will legal action bring about a reckoning for big oil? 

A Dutch court’s ruling against Shell last month was the first time a court has found that a company’s climate plan is inadequate—but it likely won’t be the last

By Jennifer Johnson  

Photo: Paul Andrew Lawrence / Alamy Stock Photo

In 1991, the oil giant Shell released a 28-minute educational film that warned of the dangers of burning fossil fuels. It stated that floods, famines, extreme weather and other disasters would become more frequent as greenhouse gases warm the planet. “Action now is seen as the only safe insurance,” the film concluded. But over the next three decades, Shell—the second-largest publicly traded oil and gas firm in the world—would fail to minimise its own role in the unfolding crisis. A Dutch court decision handed down two weeks ago, however, could effectively force Shell to play its part in preventing a climate catastrophe. 

On 26th…

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