Running strategic climate litigation

In 2021, the EDO commenced proceedings on behalf of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) against Santos Limited in the Federal Court over alleged greenwashing.

ACCR alleges that Santos engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by representing that:
1. Santos has a ‘clear’ and ‘credible’ pathway to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
2. Santos is a producer of ‘clean energy’, and that natural gas is ‘clean fuel’.
3. Blue hydrogen is ‘clean’ and ‘zero emissions’.

This was the first court case in the world to challenge the veracity of a company’s net zero target and has inspired similar claims overseas.

The EDO and ACCR are grateful for the excellent pro bono assistance of Noel Hutley SC, Sebastian Hartford Davis, and Jerome Entwisle of Counsel, and for the pro bono e-Discovery assistance provided by Relativity’s Justice for Change program in partnership with a leading commercial law firm.

Quote from Zoe Bush, Senior Solicitor at the EDO:

“About 70% of the ASX200’s market capitalisation is now covered by net-zero claims. As companies rush to convince the market that they are part of the global energy transition, full and frank disclosure has never been more important.

“Misleading information can impede an effective and timely response to the climate crisis. It may also leave investors vulnerable to major losses and potentially unfairly skew the market away from companies that are acting responsibly.”