In an Australian first, Australian Parents for Climate Action (AP4CA) has filed a claim in the Federal Court of Australia against EnergyAustralia for misleading over 400,000 consumers about the climate impact of its products.
In its filing, AP4CA alleges that EnergyAustralia is misleading customers by marketing its Go Neutral product as “carbon neutral” and having “a positive impact on the environment” when it is primarily generated by burning fossil fuels, which the company claims to have “offset” simply by buying carbon credits.
This will be the first Australian civil action brought against a company for marketing a specific consumer product as “carbon neutral” and follows a recent agreement by lawmakers in the European Parliament to ban this act overseas.
AP4CA estimates that ‘Go Neutral’ customers spend hundreds of millions a year on fossil fuel energy while being led to believe that it is “carbon neutral”
Nic Seton, CEO of AP4CA, said: “Australian parents want our energy to be clean and renewable because our children rely on us to create a safe and sustainable world for their future.”
“We simply cannot solve the climate crisis while the world’s biggest polluters rely on buying ‘offsets’; it is not scientifically possible for fossil fuel-based products to be truly ‘carbon neutral’. ‘Offsets’ are a form of marketing spin based on creative accounting, allowing fossil-fuel burners to maintain climate destroying practices and delay decarbonisation.”
“When companies burn fossil fuels, they harm the climate. It’s as simple as that. So when they use marketing spin like ‘offsets’ to justify business as usual, they’re cheating our kids out of a safe future.”
David Hertzberg, Senior Associate at Equity Generation Lawyers, representing AP4CA said, “This is the first case in Australia targeting the marketing of consumer products as ‘carbon neutral’.
“If our client is successful, it will force EnergyAustralia to stop claiming that its ‘Go Neutral’ product is ‘carbon neutral’. It will also set a precedent for other companies, helping to strip back some of the greenwashing faced by everyday consumers.
EnergyAustralia is Australia’s third-largest energy company, with 1.6 million customers. It owns multiple power stations including Australia’s most carbon-intensive station located at Yallourn, Victoria, on top of retailing electricity and gas to consumers.