Greenwashing Lawsuits

Environmental Leader

Lawyers, environmentalists and marketing groups say they’ve seen an increase in greenwashing suits over the past year, according to the National Law Journal. These groups are questioning everything from household cleaners to automobiles for their eco-friendliness. Patent attorney Eric Lane for San Diego-based Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, who runs the Green Patent Blog and tracks greenwashing litigation told the National Law Journal this is the beginning of what may be an explosion of these kinds of cases. Others agree. Victoria Davis Lockard, a partner in the products liability group at Atlanta’s Alston & Bird, also warns lawyers and companies about the growing popularity of greenwashing claims, reports the National Law Journal. She says companies should “be on the lookout for consumer product class actions alleging greenwashing. I think that this is what’s on the horizon.” Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is calling for an investigation into some of Australia’s biggest companies, including resource giants Rio Tinto and Woodside, over complaints that they have engaged in deceptive conduct when making public statements on climate change policy to gain extra compensation from the government, reports Reuters. The ACF has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate Rio and Woodside, in addition to London-listed coal miner Xstrata, Australia’s top building products maker Boral, oil refiner Caltex Australia and BlueScope Steel, the country’s largest steelmaker. The complaint notes 14 instances in which the six corporations have made statements about the impacts of the government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). The ACF has estimated Australia’s six heaviest polluting industries will gain at least A$1.1 billion ($896 million) in added compensation under recent changes to the government’s planned emissions trading scheme (ETS), currently before parliament, reports Reuters. The government is determined to force a Senate vote on the ETS before the winter break on June 25.