Environmental activists are suing Dutch airline KLM over ‘greenwashing’ adverts which they say misleadingly promote flight sustainability.
ClientEarth lawyers support Fossielvrij NL, a campaign group based in the Netherlands, to claim that KLM’s advertising campaigns give a false impression of the sustainability of its flights and its plans to address its impact on the climate.
“KLM’s marketing misleads consumers into believing its flights won’t make the climate emergency worse. But that’s a myth,” said Hiske Arts, an activist from Fossielvrij NL.
“Uncontrolled theft is one of the fastest ways to warm the planet. Customers need to be informed and protected against claims suggesting otherwise.
Activists from Fossielvrij NL submitted a pre-action letter to Air France KLM, KLM’s parent company, at its general meeting in Paris on Tuesday. Their lawsuit targets KLM’s “Fly Responsibly” campaign, which portrays the airline as “creating a more sustainable future”.
KLM’s campaign says it is on track to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and plans to introduce hydrogen and electric planes and increase the use of synthetic jet fuel to from 2035.
The plaintiffs claim KLM violates EU consumer law by misleading customers because they say the aviation sector cannot reach net zero without limiting the total number of flights.
Johnny White, a lawyer for ClientEarth, said: “While climate experts warn that we must cut air traffic to keep a just and livable world within reach, KLM and the airline industry are… intensively lobbying against climate regulations.
“It’s now or never for climate action. Airlines cannot be allowed to compete for business claiming they are tackling the climate crisis, when in fact they are fueling it.
“Just as the fossil fuel industry uses greenwashing to protect its license to operate, the aviation industry uses misleading advertising to protect its license to grow. these stalling tactics.
KLM received a slap on the wrist in a separate marketing campaign using the line “Be a hero, fly CO2 zero” last month from the Dutch advertising regulator. The regulator found that although the carbon credits purchased by KLM for the program resulted in some emissions offsetting, it was not “adequate” for the airline to claim carbon neutrality.
According to Bloomberg, the slogan was deemed by the watchdog to be an absolute claim, but the airline was unable to prove the claim. Air France KLM declined to comment on the reports at the time.
Just 1% of the world’s population is responsible for 50% of all commercial aviation emissions.
“Theft is not only one of the most climate-damaging products people can buy, it’s also uniquely unequal,” Arts said.
“It is unfair that a small group of frequent travelers continues to fuel climate breakdown, when it is the less affluent, the people of the south and future generations who stand to suffer the most as the world unfolds. dangerously warm.”
A KLM spokeswoman said: “We have received a letter from ClientEarth and will review its contents.”