A brand new report has detailed an “explosion” in authorized challenges in opposition to company local weather commitments, claims about product attributes, overstated investments or assist for local weather motion, and failure to reveal local weather dangers, with case numbers nearly trebling since 2020.
In keeping with a brand new evaluation from the Grantham Analysis Institute on Local weather Change and the Setting on the London Faculty of Economics and Political Science, 26 so-called “climate-washing” instances have been filed in opposition to company actors in 2022 in comparison with lower than 10 in 2020.
Excessive profile examples embody the directors of Shell being personally sued by environmental regulation group ClientEarth for allegedly failing to adequately handle the dangers posed to the oil and gasoline firm by local weather change, and BNP Paribas being taken to court by a raft of NGOs over its local weather credentials, funding in fossil fuels and contribution to local weather change.
The report, “International developments in local weather change litigation: 2023 snapshot,” discovered 266 climate-related instances have been filed in 2021, adopted by an extra 222 new instances in 2022.
One of the vital important teams of climate-washing instances to emerge lately have been instances difficult the truthfulness of company local weather commitments.
Though the speed of recent instances slowed final 12 months, the report discovered the range of instances was rising. For instance, its authors registered extra litigation centered on biodiversity, the duties of governments and firms to guard the ocean, excessive climate occasions and short-lived local weather pollution.
Furthermore, of the two,341 historic climate-related litigation instances analyzed within the report, 1,157 have been introduced since 2015 — the 12 months of the Paris Settlement. Of those, 1,590 have been filed within the U.S., 130 in Australia, 102 within the U.Ok., and nearly 70 instances have been filed with the Court docket of Justice of the EU.
The research additionally discovered that greater than 50 p.c of local weather instances have “direct judicial outcomes that may be understood as favorable to local weather motion and in some instances these have led to effectively documented modifications in coverage.”
Nonetheless, whereas a lot of profitable instances have led to modifications in coverage, local weather instances proceed to have oblique impacts on decision-making regardless whether or not profitable.
The authors of the report, Joana Setzer and Kate Higham, stated that whereas instances involved with mis- and disinformation on local weather change are “removed from new,” latest years have seen an “explosion” of climate-washing instances filed earlier than each courts and administrative our bodies reminiscent of client safety businesses.
The expansion in climate-washing instances displays broader issues with company accountability for local weather pledges.
“One of the vital important teams of climate-washing instances to emerge lately have been instances difficult the truthfulness of company local weather commitments, significantly the place these usually are not backed up by enough plans and insurance policies,” they stated.
“The expansion in climate-washing instances displays broader issues with company accountability for local weather pledges together with ongoing debates in regards to the position of corporations in local weather decision-making.”
The report, launched late final week, additionally discovered that within the 12 months to Might, climate-related instances have been recognized in seven new nations — Bulgaria, China, Finland, Romania, Russia, Thailand and Turkey — whereas greater than 130 instances have been filed within the International South.
The report follows recent warnings from the European Banking Authority of a “clear increase” in potential instances of greenwashing throughout all monetary sectors, particularly in banking and funding.
A ballot commissioned by advisory agency Portland Litigation and Disputes additionally discovered U.K. public “overwhelmingly” supports corporations and governments being taken to court docket over local weather impacts, injury to the setting and situations of greenwashing.