French Tribunal Dismisses NGO Suit On Carbon Neutrality Claims

Published date23 November 2022
Subject MatterEnergy and Natural Resources, Energy Law, Oil, Gas & Electricity, Renewables
Law FirmJones Day
AuthorMs Armelle Sandrin-Deforge

In a judgement dated April 19, 2022, the Tribunal of Paris (the "Tribunal") dismissed a misleading commercial practice claim brought by a consumer protection non-government organization ("NGO") against an energy supplier (the "Company") regarding carbon neutrality allegations. The Company was advertising for an electricity supply offer, claiming that such offer was "carbon neutral and 10% cheaper."

The NGO argued that the Company's allegedly "carbon neutral" offer did not relate to the supply of electricity from renewable sources, but claimed it was carbon neutral without providing adequate information to support such a claim. The NGO requested from the Tribunal that the Company be ordered to remove all present and future advertisements which included claims that the electricity was "carbon neutral," that it was "produced from sources emitting almost no CO2 or other greenhouse gas" and that such electricity was "respectful of our planet and the future generations." The NGO alleged that such claims would lead consumers to believe that, if they subscribed to the offer, they would adopt a behavior contributing to the preservation of the environment and concretely fight against the greenhouse effect. In addition, the NGO requested information regarding the mix of energy sources as well the guarantees of origin (i.e., a certificate to demonstrate to a final customer that a given share or quantity of energy was produced from renewable sources, as defined by Directive 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources) obtained by the Company be included in the advertisement for the electricity sold by the Company.

The Tribunal first noted that additional information had, in fact, been made available by the Company. In particular, some of the disputed claims were posted on the Company's website and accompanied by an asterisk, referring to the Terms and Conditions tab where the term "carbon neutral electricity"...

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