Using the law to counter greenwashing
Misleading advertising and greenwashing is widespread in Australia, a country with a vast contribution to global climate change relative to its population. To protect vested interests and maintain the status quo, the AUD 115bn fossil fuel industry spends large sums to spread misinformation and is routinely engaged in corporate greenwashing. Fossil fuel expansion projects are often deliberately excluded from a company's total emissions figures, and disingenuous climate plans are also commonplace.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is the largest environmental legal centre in the Australia Pacific. They have set out to address this problem by using strategic litigation to hold the large companies accountable for their advertising and PR efforts and ensure that what they say aligns with what they actually do. Australia has a progressive legal framework on greenwashing, and EDO aims to achieve legal outcomes that will discourage polluting corporations, and the PR and advertising agencies representing them, from spreading false information. In 2021 EDO filed the first, pioneering court case in the world to challenge the veracity of a company’s net zero emissions target, and they continue to lead the charge by utilising corporate litigation as an integral part of their work in order to combat climate greenwashing.