In terms of responsibility for cumulative emissions, Chevron is second among fossil fuel firms, ExxonMobil is third, and Shell sixth. These developments are not just about holding the worst polluters accountable but encapsulate growing public awareness and a critical mass of overt public support for undertaking radical transformation of the economy and society in order to tackle climate change.
The case against Shell was pursued by an NGO, Friends of the Earth, Netherlands, and 17,000 individuals. A Green Party nominee is the favourite for chancellor among German voters. It is this public demand that gives comfort and pushes governments, courts and businesses to change.
This is good news for developing countries, as indirect fulfilment of their long-standing demand to recognise the historical responsibility of rich industrialised nations to do more to reduce emissions and take climate action, so that developing countries have a little more room to deal with climate change while addressing developmental needs. That wiggle room, however, is not excuse for inaction, and the government must take the lead.