In an Australian first, Australian Parents for Climate Action (AP4CA) has filed a claim in the Federal Court of Australia against electricity and gas company EnergyAustralia for allegedly misleading over 400,000 consumers about the climate impact of its products.
AP4CA claims 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.
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This will be the first Australian civil action brought against a company for marketing a specific consumer product as “carbon neutral” and follows 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”.
AP4CA CEO Nic Seton 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’ve had enough of power companies misleading us into buying polluting products. So we’re taking a stand against EnergyAustralia’s greenwashing on behalf of Australia’s parents and our children.
“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.
“Why would we stand for it when energy companies mislead consumers into thinking their energy is good for the climate while continuing to pump climate-wrecking pollution into the atmosphere? These companies should instead be switching to genuinely sustainable and renewable energy.”
AP4CA is being represented by Equity Generation Lawyers.
In response, an EnergyAustralia spokesperson said, “EnergyAustralia is disappointed that the Australian Parents for Climate Action group has chosen to commence court proceedings rather than engaging with EnergyAustralia to share ideas about ways to ensure that consumers can make informed choices.
“EnergyAustralia denies the allegations of misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to our Go Neutral and PureEnergy products and intends to defend the proceeding. In respect of the Go Neutral product, EnergyAustralia has complied with the Climate Active certification process and ensured the statements we make about the product are consistent with the nature of certification under the Climate Active Standard.
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“Climate Active is an ongoing partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. The brand represents Australia’s collective effort to measure, reduce, and offset carbon emissions to lessen our negative impact on the environment.
“EnergyAustralia is committed to ensuring that consumers can make informed choices in respect of our retail energy offering.”