On a High Note: Greenwashed Ads Land KLM in Court

Greenwashed Ads Land KLM in Court

Environmental groups are suing Dutch airline KLM, claiming the company is guilty of “greenwashing” its public image in its Fly Responsibly ad campaign. The controversial ads suggest to consumers that KLM is the greenest choice due to its contributions to reforestation programs and other initiatives. Opponents say the ads are misleading and violate European Law by duping the public into believing KLM flights are sustainable when they aren’t.

"KLM has ... stuck by the false message that it is on the path to more sustainable flying," Hiske Arts, a campaigner at the environmental advocacy group Fossielvrij NL, told Reuters.  "There is no way it can do this while planning continuous air traffic growth that will fuel the breakdown of our climate."

Increasingly, the world is calling for a crackdown on greenwashing, especially when it comes to Big Oil. A recently-launched campaign, Ban Fossil Fuel Ads, is pushing to do just that in the EU, while the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) recently promised to release new requirements for advertising agencies for the UK.

Still, the judicial system is an important battleground in the climate fight. In March, the city and county of Honolulu won its legal case against Big Oil companies (Chevron, Sunoco, ExxonMobil, and others) that alleged that they failed to fulfill their duty to disclose information in their decades-long campaign to misinform the public about the effects of fossil fuels on climate change.

Planet Proof: Airline KLM Faces Legal Action Over Greenwashing, June 24, 2022.

WW0: Newsmaker of the Week | Scott Kirby, CEO, United Airlines, September 23, 2021.

Now This: Everything You Need to Know About Greenwashing, Jan 22, 2021.

DW: Banks increase funding for fossil fuels despite 'net zero' pledges, February 15, 2022.

Al Jazeera: Should fossil fuel advertising be regulated?, October 20, 2021.