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Regional Court of Kleve's decision on company's climate neutral claims regarding sweets

Jurisdiction: Regional Court of Kleve

Side A: Anonymous Party (Ngo)

Side B: Anonymous Party (Corporation)

Core objectives: Whether an advertising on climate neutral production of all products is a misleading commercial practice 

The defendant, a company selling sweets, advertised that it produced all products in a climate neutral way. The relevant advertisement contained the statement: ‘Since 2021, […] has been producing all products in a climate neutral way.’ It was undisputed between the parties that the manufacturing process of the products was not CO2-neutral, but that the defendant supported climate protection projects. 

The plaintiff argued that the statement was misleading as it would be understood by the target consumer as meaning that the manufacturing process itself was climate neutral. At the very least, the advertising statement had to be supplemented to the effect that climate neutrality was achieved through compensatory measures. The defendant, on the other hand, argued that the complaint was unfounded, as it had taken several measures to reduce its emissions. It argued that because sweets could not be produced without emitting any CO2, the company supported climate protection projects, and thus, the CO2 released was offset in the balance sheet. The defendant further argued that the target public understood climate neutrality as balance-sheet climate-neutrality.

The Court found the advertising not to be a misleading commercial practice pursuant to the Act against Unfair Competition. The target audience of the advertising was a professional audience, because the advertising appeared in a food newspaper which addressed decision-makers in trade and the consumer good industry as well as industry-relevant service providers. The Court stressed that ‘climate neutral’ was not synonymous with ‘emission-free’ and that the former could also be reached through compensation. The targeted professional audience knew that climate neutrality could be reached through compensation. Therefore, the URL contained in the advertising under which information on the compensation could be find, sufficed. In contrast to consumers, it is common and reasonable for professionals to obtain information about a production from the information available on the internet.

The Regional Court's decision was appealed.

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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