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November 15, 2023

Editor’s note: Shell, climate ligation and directors’ responsibility

UK Royal Courts of Justice
The UK Court of Appeal has rejected ClientEarth’s request to appeal its derivative claim against Shell’s board directors (Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter

Dear reader,

On the menu today is some climate litigation news. Claudia updates us on the final chapter of what could have been a landmark case: non-profit ClientEarth’s lawsuit against Shell’s directors for their individual role in the oil company’s (inadequate, according to the claim) transition plans.

The UK courts dismissed the claim and have now rejected ClientEarth’s request for appeal. As the non-profit says: the case is now over. You will find the full chronology and details of the lawsuit (including the earlier order the non-profit cover Shell’s legal costs) in the piece.

As Claudia writes, this “has largely been seen as a test case of how far director liabilities stretch when it comes to balancing climate risk”. Does this mean company directors are now off the hook? It seems unlikely, even after the latest news.

Earlier this year, Norton Rose Fulbright’s litigation experts told me they anticipate that board members’ personal responsibility will be one of the key themes driving climate litigation in the future.

And Shell’s transition plans have reportedly been criticised from within the company too.

Stay tuned for more on this subject. And, as always, do get in touch with your own views on this.

In other news, European CEOs appear confident that policymakers will strengthen incentives for green investments. Philippa reports on The Conference Board study gauging business leaders’ views on policy areas across the world.

Also today, we bring you research showing that companies consider extreme weather events as the biggest operational risk they will face this decade, ahead of cyber attacks and wars. 

Those of you interested in food systems and agriculture may also wish to read a new report warning investors about the environmental risks of the nitrogen-based fertiliser industry

Lastly, we have some data showing how companies are gearing up for the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. It’s based on a relatively small sample but provides some interesting insights – including on the numbers of full-time ESG employees.

Until tomorrow,


Silvia Pavoni is the editor of Sustainable Views 

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