In July 2022, a group of 13 environmental NGOs (including ClientEarth, Greenpeace and WWF) issued legal proceedings against the Flemish authorities challenging a permission granted to British petrochemical company Ineos for a plastics manufacturing facility at the Port of Antwerp. NGOs say the project will boost the production of single-use plastics, thus failing to meet the requirements of the EU’s waste reduction strategies and climate commitments. Antwerp authorities, who granted the permit last December 2021, are also accused of failing to consider greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of the plant, as well as the damage that nitrogen pollution would cause to local wildlife.
Claims of deceptive “greenwashing” marketing campaigns are also becoming more frequent too. The most recent high-profile example of that is ClientEarth's lawsuit against District of Colombia power utility Washington Gas Light Company (WGLC) and the claim that it has violated Washington D.C.’s consumer protection laws for labelling its gas power as clean and sustainable. ClientEarth has challenged WGLC's claims that the fossil gas it provides is “clean, efficient and reliable energy” on its monthly bills to customers. They are seeking to stop WGLC from using misleading language and images that promote natural gas’ environmental benefits in their customer-facing materials.
This reflects the continuing and ever-growing trend towards the use of climate litigation as a means of addressing the climate crisis. To find out more about these trends in climate litigation, in both Ireland and the European Union, you can read our article here.
*This article was first published by Eolas Magazine in May 2022