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German court rules against TotalEnergies in consumer greenwashing claim

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In May 2022, the NGO Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH)) filed a greenwashing claim in the the Düsseldorf Regional Court against the energy company TotalEnergies.

Adverts produced by TotalEnergies had claimed that its Thermoplus heating oil product was climate neutral because the company offset the CO2 emissions of the oil as part of its climate plan. The DUH argued that this was misleading and breached consumer protection law, including because there was no real evidence to show that offsetting projects being invested in had the effect of reducing TotalEnergies’ CO2 emissions.

The Düsseldorf Regional Court handed down judgment in April 2023, finding in favour of DUH. It ruled that TotalEnergies must stop advertising its product as “CO2 compensated” and must list the exact project from which it buys carbon offsets.

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