Judges in Amsterdam ruled on Wednesday that environmental campaign group Fossielvrij can press ahead with its court case against KLM, in which it accuses the airline of misleading advertising.
The case, the first of its kind, claims that KLM adverts and other marketing materials are “irresponsible”, “damaging” and conflict with EU fair trade guidelines.
KLM had argued that the lobby group is not the proper body to bring such a case, but the court has now ruled that the campaign group qualifies as an appropriate organisation to press the case under Dutch class action regulations.
Frank Peters, a lawyer at bureau Brandeis which is representing Fossielvrij NL, told Dutch News the court had established this in light of Fossilvrij’s expertise, track record and articles of association to qualify.
“Today’s ruling confirms that climate groups do have a place in combating greenwashing,” said Fossielvrij NL campaigner Hiske Arts. “We managed to get KLM to drop its problematic “fly responsibly” campaign simply by threatening to go to court.”
Although that campaign has been stopped, KLM is still offering CO2 compensation packages which “give customers the idea that they can reduce the climate damage caused by their flight,” the campaign group said.
In addition, it argues, KLM has pledged to contribute to a more sustainable future, but its focus remains on growth.
“We need to tackle the aviation sector’s greenwashing, because it is undermining global efforts to tackle the climate crisis,” said Johnny White, a lawyer for ClientEarth, which is backing the campaign.
KLM has not yet commented on the court verdict.
The main case will probably not be heard until 2024.
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