A proposed class action alleges certain claims from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines regarding environmental sustainability and “fly[ing] responsibly” are bunk given that the airline bases the statements on outdated carbon emissions targets.
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According to the 21-page complaint, Netherlands-based KLM Royal Dutch Airlines touts to consumers its commitment to “fly responsibly,” that it recognizes the need to stem global warming, and that the airline has “committed to the targets defined in the Paris Climate Agreement.” Though the airline markets its commitment to sustainability, the lawsuit contends that its Climate Action Plan projections are based on a scenario that is “inconsistent with the Paris Agreement to prevent world temperature rising above 1.5 ºC.”
As the suit tells it, KLM Royal Dutch, on the contrary, contributes to a trajectory in which there exists a high probability that global warming will surpass 1.5 ºC by 2050.
“The targets KLM is using to try and limit its carbon emissions are outdated, and using this as a goal is insufficient to curb dangerous global warming,” the lawsuit summarizes. “Though KLM attempts to specify its environmental initiatives with facts and figures, the result is consumers being misled.”
The allegedly misleading sustainability statements from KLM include purported reductions in CO2 emissions, the amount of water saved by the airline, and the use of sustainable biofuels, the filing expands.
Further, the suit claims KLM Royal Dutch’s descriptions of its CO2ZERO carbon offsetting program—whereby the airline allows fliers to buy carbon credits to, in theory, help contribute to the reduction or removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by planting and growing trees—are misleading. The filing alleges the airline “has not used competent and reliable scientific and accounting methods to properly quantify” the touted emissions reductions from its use of carbon offsets.
“No credible evidence exists that purchasing carbon credits is equivalent to negating the environmental effects of flying,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit ultimately claims KLM Royal Dutch flights cost more than on other airlines, and more than similar flights, due to the airline’s “false and misleading representations and omissions about its environmental initiatives.”
The case looks to cover all consumers in Michigan who bought flights on KLM Royal Dutch or via KLM through its codeshare partners, including Delta, in reliance on the airline’s environmental claims during the applicable statute of limitations period.
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