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Shell sues Greenpeace for $2m in landmark case against group

Having failed at an anti-democratic power play, Shell is suing Greenpeace for at least $2m following the outfit’s occupation of one of its production storage boats in February.

Shell is attempting ‘to crush Greenpeace’s ability to campaign, and in doing so, seeking to silence legitimate demands for climate justice,’ the environmental group has declared.

In-case you’re unfamiliar, back in February Greenpeace boarded a ship in the Atlantic Ocean transporting a Shell production storage and offloading unit. Four campaigners occupied the barge for 13 days, and the oil giant later filed a case at the High Court in London.

A legal hiatus was put in place on the request of Shell to allow both parties to negotiate out of court. During this period, Greenpeace claims that Shell essentially blackmailed them and used ‘intimidation’ tactics to quell any future disruptions.

It’s alleged that while Shell was originally seeking upwards of $5m in reparations, it had offered to settle at $1.4m provided campaigners agreed not to protest at any of Shell’s oil and gas infrastructure – at sea or in port – ever again. A grubby deal offered by a grubby enterprise.

Unsurprisingly, Greenpeace rejected the notion of turning a blind eye for a lesser punishment, stating that only full compliance with a prior ruling requiring Shell to cut emissions by 45% before 2030 would stop the protests. Shell, meanwhile, is still appealing that case from 2021 in the Netherlands.

Now back in this legal battleground, Greenpeace has described the lawsuit as among the biggest legal threats it has faced in its 50-year existence. ‘We need this case to be thrown out and for Shell to be regulated by the government,’ says co-executive director Areeba Hamid.

Given Shell recorded record profits of $40bn last year, equivalent to around an eye-watering $110m a day, it’s safe to infer that resolving a few incurred expenses – such as needing to mobilise an extra safety vehicle – probably aren’t top of Shell’s agenda here.

In all likelihood, it instead appears Shell has seized an opportunity to try and strategically eliminate (or at least weaken) an advisory that has been a constant thorn in its side for decades.

‘The right to protest is fundamental and we respect it absolutely, but it must be done safely and lawfully,’ Shell stated to the Financial Times.

Cutting through the noise, this appears to be just another chapter in the war of attrition between the two dating back to 1995. We know whose side we’re on, anyway.

Hint: It’s not the one producing close to 700m barrels of oil per year.