Dutch environmental groups suing KLM for its misleading, greenwashing, adverts
Environmental groups are suing the Dutch subsidiary of Air France KLM over an advertising campaign that they allege breaches European consumer law by misleading the public over how environmentally “sustainable” its flights are. Dutch campaigners Fossielvrij NL, supported by environmental law charity ClientEarth and Reclame Fossielvrij, have filed the first lawsuit alleging greenwashing in the airline industry in the District Court of Amsterdam. KLM wants to persuade its customers that it is working hard to cut carbon emissions, while in reality doing practically nothing, and aiming to grow flights and emissions. Campaigners have launched hundreds of climate change-related suits against companies, governments and authorities to try to fight an escalating climate crisis. Campaigners want to stop KLM’s ‘Fly Responsibly’ adverts, saying they violate the Dutch implementation of the EU’s Unfair Consumer Practices Directive by giving the false impression its flights will not exacerbate the climate crisis.The Dutch court will decide whether the case can proceed before KLM has to file any defence, ClientEarth said.
Dutch airline KLM sued over ‘greenwashing’ ads
By Anthony Deutsch, Kirstin Ridley and Simon Jessop (Reuters)
July 6th 2022
Environmental groups are suing the Dutch subsidiary of Air France KLM (AIRF.PA) over an advertising campaign they allege breaches European consumer law by misleading the public over how sustainable its flights are.
Dutch campaigners Fossielvrij NL, supported by environmental law charity ClientEarth and Reclame Fossielvrij, on Wednesday filed the first lawsuit alleging greenwashing in the airline industry in the District Court of Amsterdam.
KLM, which says it has invested millions of euros in a more sustainable fleet and is working towards the industry goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, met with the groups before the suit was filed, but failed to find a solution.
“It would certainly not be in our interests to misinform our customers. It’s our responsibility to make future travel as sustainable as possible,” the airline said in a statement sent to Reuters. “We believe that our communications comply with the applicable legislation and regulations.”
Campaigners have launched hundreds of climate change-related suits against companies, governments and authorities to try to accelerate the world’s shift to a low-carbon economy and fight an escalating climate crisis. read more
“KLM has … stuck by the false message that it is on the path to more sustainable flying,” said Hiske Arts, a campaigner at Fossielvrij NL. “There is no way it can do this while planning continuous air traffic growth that will fuel the breakdown of our climate.”
Campaigners want to stop KLM’s ‘Fly Responsibly’ adverts, alleging they violate the Dutch implementation of the EU’s Unfair Consumer Practices Directive by giving the false impression its flights will not exacerbate the climate crisis.
KLM launched the advertising campaign last December, urging customers to help pioneer a “sustainable future” for aviation by paying towards reforestation projects or by contributing to the cost of greener aviation fuels through its CO2ZERO offers, designed to help tackle flight-related carbon emissions.
Campaign groups allege that aviation cannot be made sustainable quickly enough to meet global climate goals by replacing fossil jet fuel, improved engines, efficiencies or other future technologies and want a reduction in flights – a view echoed by a leading investor group in March. read more
The Dutch court will decide whether the case can proceed before KLM has to file any defence, ClientEarth said.
What is greenwashing?
ClientEarth describes it as: “Greenwashing is where a company uses advertising and public messaging to appear more climate friendly and environmentally sustainable than it really is. It’s also a technique used by certain companies to distract consumers from the fact that their business model and activities actually do a lot of environmental harm and damage.
It can be seen in advertising, sponsorship and public messaging in the media and on social media.”
Client Earth joining legal action against Dutch airline KLM for greenwashing
ClientEarth and 2 Dutch organisations are taking legal action against Dutch airline KLM, over misleading marketing that promotes the sustainability of flying. Instead of the only action that will actually cut aviation carbon emissions – fewer flights – the industry pretends that it can continue to grow, using novel technologies, mainly different fuels. KLM’s marketing campaign attempts to convince consumers otherwise, giving a false impression of the sustainability of its flights and plans to address the climate harm of flying. The legal action focuses on KLM’s Fly Responsibly ad campaign and its offers for customers to buy carbon offset products to reduce the impact of their flight by funding reforestation projects or KLM’s purchase of biofuels. If KLM doesn’t comply with demands to cease greenwashing, the lawsuit will argue that its campaigns and carbon ‘compensation’ schemes are misleading its customers, and violate European consumer law. Instead of giving them real information about the carbon impact of a flight, KLM’s marketing undermines the urgent action needed to minimise climate damage, giving the impression that all is OK, and flying can continue – and be guilt free.
See more on what ClientEarth is doing on greenwashing at