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Advertising for products with the term “climate neutral” allowed?

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Advertising for products with the term “climate neutral” allowed?

The advertising of products as “climate neutral” does not automatically mislead the consumer a fruit gum manufacturer and a jam manufacturer were each sued by a competition center for failing to advertise their products as “climate-neutral”.

As justification, the Senate pointed out that the average consumer understands the term “climate-neutral” in the sense of a balanced balance of the CO2 emissions of a product, whereby he is aware that neutrality is achieved both through avoidance and through compensation measures (e.g. certificate trading). could become. This applies because the consumer is aware that goods and services are also advertised as climate-neutral which – such as air travel – cannot be provided emission-free and for which climate neutrality is therefore only possible through compensation payments. Whether the term “climate neutrality” refers to a company as a whole or just to a specific product is irrelevant. The advertising of both manufacturers is therefore not misleading when taken on its own.

A claim for injunctive relief can nevertheless arise in individual cases if the advertiser has breached his duty to provide information by withholding essential information from the consumer. How the climate neutrality of an advertised product is achieved is such essential information, because climate protection is an increasingly important topic for consumers, not only in the news but also in everyday life and can therefore have a significant influence on a purchase decision. Precisely because the consumer knows that a balanced climate balance can also be achieved through compensation payments, there is an interest in clarification about the basic circumstances of the climate neutrality claimed by a company.

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While in the case of the jam manufacturer (I-20 U 72/22) neither its advertisement in a food magazine nor the product packaging contained any indication of how the advertised climate neutrality came about, the fruit gum manufacturer (I-20 U 152/22) provided the necessary information in a sufficient manner, since the reader of his advertisement in the magazine for foodstuffs could, via the QR code contained therein, go to the “ClimatePartner.com” website, from which the necessary information could be obtained. This is sufficient to inform the consumer, since there is ultimately no space in a newspaper advertisement to include the necessary detailed information on the type and scope of any compensation payments beyond the mere information “Climate neutrality is also achieved through compensation”.

The Senate therefore confirmed the judgment of the first instance in both proceedings.

Judgment of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court of July 6, 2023, Az.: I-20 U 72/22

Source: Press release no. 24/2023 of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court of 07/06/2023

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