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RCC - CvB Ruling on Shell "Compensate your emissions"

Jurisdiction: RCC - CvB (Advertising Code Committee - appeal body)

Side A: Advertising Fossil Free (Ngo)

Side A: Greenpeace Netherlands (Ngo)

Side A: Clemens Kaupa (Individual)

Side B: Shell (Corporation)

Core objectives: Whether Shell's advertising on CO2 compensation is misleading 

The contested advertisings concerned several statements on Shell's website regarding the campaign "Make a difference. Compensate CO2 emissions".

The complaint was in line with the previous Ruling on Shell "Drive CO2 neutral" 1 in which the RCC held that Shell's advertising was in breach of articles 2 and 3 of the Code for Environmental Advertising (MRC). After the ruling, Shell had replaced  "CO2 neutral" with "CO2 compensation". The complainants argued that these terms were synonymous and that an average consumer would understand the compensation claims as undoing the climatic harm caused by fossil fuels. But Shell had not provided the scientific evidence that the promised offsetting actually led to this result in practice. 

The Committee found this claim not to be different from the previously assessed "CO2 neutral" claim. Thus, the Committee found the claim to be misleading and in breach of articles 2 and 3 MRC. 

Shell appealed the ruling and argued that the Committee's interpretation of the claim put Shell in an impossible evidential position which would hinder Shell to communicate about its CO2 offset programme. 

The appeal body of the RCC confirmed the preliminary ruling. 

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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