For example, when the Peruvian farmer and mountain guide Saúl Luciano Lliuya filed an unprecedented legal claim against RWE in 2015, seeking compensation for its role in causing historical climate change that threatens his home, the German energy giant’s relative value fell by 6%. It dropped again by 1.3% in 2017, when an appeals court allowed the claim to proceed.
Another important case with a more complex picture was brought against Shell by the Dutch NGO Milieudefensie, which argued that the company had an obligation to reduce carbon emissions from its global operations,
Shell’s relative value actually rose by 1.9% when the lawsuit was filed in April 2019. But two years later, when a court at The Hague ordered Shell to cut its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030 compared with 2019 levels, it fell by 3.8%. Shell is appealing against the decision, but is supposed to comply in the meantime.
The researchers found consistently larger effects on corporate share prices after the Shell case was launched “suggesting capital markets are increasingly responding to climate litigation”.
There has been a surge in climate litigation against fossil fuel firms and other polluting industries in recent years, with many cases challenging corporate inaction on the climate crisis and attempts to spread misinformation, and companies are increasingly recognising it as a risk.