Dutch activists celebrate their victory over Shell at The Hague (Image: AP/Peter Dejong)

Three key moments in 24 hours yesterday demonstrate how far ahead of governments courts and investors are when it comes to reining in the pollution of fossil fuel companies -- and why the Morrison government is desperate to curtail the rights of investors and proxy advisers.

In the Netherlands, a court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its emissions by 45% by 2030, not the 20% envisaged in the own company’s transformation plan.

That action was filed in April 2019 by seven activist groups -- including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace -- on behalf of 17,200 Dutch citizens. They argued Shell's business model “is endangering human rights and lives” by posing a threat to the goals of the Paris Agreement aimed at keeping global temperature rises well below two degrees. The court has ruled that Shell must comply not merely with Dutch law, but with broader climate goals to which its home country is a signatory. Similar actions are on foot in other European countries, although Shell intends to appeal.