Authors: Karla M. Rojas and Alessandra Saraccini
12th of April, 2021
What once used to be a green, rich, and biodiverse ecosystem, with an abundance of fishing and farming resources, is now a victim of ecocide. This is the reality of the Niger Delta, a region which is facing irreversible environmental damage to its flora and fauna, and whose local communities have lost basic human rights, such as health and access to food and clear water.
Who is responsible for this?
For over half a century, the Niger Delta has been environmentally abused by the petroleum industry, with a reported annual average of 2300 cubic meters of oil spills – although the World Bank claims that the real estimate is as much as 10 times higher.
Among some of the most catastrophic events in the region are the 2008 oil spills in the villages of Oruma and Goi, where multinational Royal Dutch Shell was the operator of the leaking pipelines.
With the support of Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Amnesty International, local Nigerian fishermen and farmers were able to file a lawsuit against Shell, holding it accountable for the damages caused to their ecosystem, farms, and community.
However, Shell claimed that it is not responsible for the petroleum spills. These were a result of one of the innumerous Nigerail oil thefts, through which local communities bring petroleum to the many illegal oil refineries. In fact, it is estimated that almost 30% of oil spill accidents are caused by failures in engaging in this business.
In addition, Shell claimed to have supported the Nigerian community in sufficient clean up interventions and monetary compensations.
Shell’s commitment to a more sustainable energy system and a net-zero emissions business by 2050 supports this hypothesis, in that it shows their willingness to have a positive impact on the environment.
After 13 years…
… The Dutch appeals court has ruled that the Nigerian branch of multinational Royal Dutch Shell is responsible for the 2008 oils spills and must compensate for the damages caused, as well as install a leakage detection system in the Nigerian Delta pipelines.
Should Shell really be held accountable? Is there enough proof of sabotage of the 2008 accident? What makes this court ruling a historical one?
Listen to our podcast to find out more…
Or, if you prefer, read our infographic to quickly get informed about the topic…
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