Energy giant Shell has filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace, demanding $2.1 million in damages, in what is being described as one of the most significant legal threats faced by the environmental organization.
According to documents seen by Reuters, the dispute arose after four Greenpeace activists boarded one of Shell’s oil production vessels earlier this year. Using ropes from inflatable boats, the activists boarded the vessel, reportedly while it was moving, near the Canary Islands and traveled on it all the way to Norway.
The legal claim was filed in London’s High Court, with Shell seeking compensation for costs associated with shipping delays, extra security measures, and legal fees.
“The claim is one of the biggest legal threats against the Greenpeace network’s ability to campaign in the organisation’s more than 50-year history,” Greenpeace said.
The environmental organization has accused Shell of employing “aggressive legal tactics” in an attempt to “silence growing dissent over chief executive Wael Sawan’s moves to double down on fossil fuel investment.”
“Shell is trying to silence my legitimate demands: that it must stop its senseless and greedy pursuit of fossil fuels and take accountability for the destruction it is wreaking upon the world,” said Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and one of the protestors who boarded the Shell vessel.
“I will stand up in court and fight this; and if Shell refuses to stop drilling, I refuse to stop fighting for climate justice,” Saño added.
Related Articles: Victory for Climate Movement: Oil Giant Shell Condemned by Dutch Court | US Supreme Court Dismisses Oil Giants’ Appeals in Local Climate Lawsuits | New Chapter in Climate Cases: A Win for Youth in America | UN’s Landmark Decision: Children’s Right to Sue Over Climate | Youth Activists vs Europe: A Climate Battle of Epic Proportions
As the dispute unfolded, Shell reportedly offered to reduce the damage claim to $1.4 million if Greenpeace agreed to stop protesting at any of Shell’s infrastructure at sea or in a port. If Greenpeace didn’t comply, Shell reportedly said that contracting companies could also get involved to pursue damages, which in that case could reach $8.6m.
Greenpeace however said it would consider this condition only if Shell complied with a 2021 Dutch court order mandating a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030 — a demand that Shell has contested through an ongoing appeal process.
Responding to Reuters’ inquiries, a Shell spokesperson confirmed that legal action was being taken but refrained from talking about the amounts.
The spokesperson said that boarding a moving vessel was “unlawful and extremely dangerous,” emphasizing the company’s respect for the right to protest and underscoring the need to do so safely.
“The right to protest is fundamental and we respect it absolutely. But it must be done safely and lawfully,” the spokesperson told Reuters.
Negotiations between Shell and Greenpeace have been ongoing, but as of early November, the talks have reached an impasse, Greenpeace said, adding that it is now waiting for Shell to file further await further developments.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Greenpeace activists hold a banner that reads “NO NEW GAS” in a protest against the installation of a gas drilling platform about 35 kilometers northwest of the East Frisian island of Borkum. Featured Photo Credit: © Lucas Wahl / Greenpeace.