KLM sentenced after a complaint for “greenwashing”


A number of advertising messages that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has used in the past are misleading and therefore unlawful, ruled a court in Amsterdam. That is the outcome of the collective action brought by citizen platform Fossielvrij NL (“fossil-free NL”) against KLM because it believes that KLM is engaging in greenwashing.

In these advertisements, KLM makes environmental claims that are based on vague and general statements about environmental benefits, thereby misleading consumers. In other communications, KLM paints an overly optimistic picture of the effects of measures such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels and reforestation.

These measures only marginally reduce negative environmental aspects and incorrectly give the impression that flying with KLM is sustainable.

KLM has since stopped the advertisements that were the subject of the case. Therefore, no rectification is required. The company is also allowed to continue advertising. However, if there are claims about CO2 reduction in these advertisements, they must be “honest and concrete,” the judges emphasise. A general warning that current aviation is not sustainable is not mandatory.


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