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Green organizations receive legal aid in the fight against greenwashing

The Civil Agency has granted the Vegetarian Society of Denmark and the Climate Movement legal aid in the climate lawsuit against Danish Crown. The lawsuit begins in Denmarks Western High Court in November.
8. september 2023
Berit Ertmann

The Vegetarian Society of Denmark and the Climate Movement have been granted legal aid, in danish “fri proces”, in the case of Danish Crown’s greenwashing of pork. This is stated in a statement from the Civil Agency.

In practice, the decision from the Civil Agency means that the reasonable costs of the case will be covered by the danish state. According to attorney Marc Malmbak Stounberg from Kontra Lawyers, who is representing the green organizations in the case, the decision by the Civil Agency was made based on the case’s principled nature.

“The grant is a recognition of the case’s principled importance. The lawsuit is the first of its kind and can therefore establish an important legal precedent in the field of greenwashing of food,” he says.

The decision comes as a great relief to the Vegetarian Society of Denmark.

“The fact that we have now been granted legal aid for the case shows that it is justified because it is principled. Our counterparts have in various ways tried to obstruct the case by increasing the costs and thereby the financial risk for us. Therefore, it is very positive that we can conduct the first climate lawsuit in Denmark without concerns about the case’s finances,” says Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl, the Secretary-General of the Vegetarian Society of Denmark.

The carbon footprint of our meat production is extremely high, and yet, according to the green organizations, it is virtually “free” for companies to greenwash climate-damaging foods because the Consumer Ombudsman in Denmark does not have the ability to impose significant fines on food companies.

According to the Climate Movement, the goal of the lawsuit is to hold major meat producers like Danish Crown accountable for marketing climate-heavy and environmentally damaging products as “green.”

“Danes have no chance of knowing what’s what when it comes to the climate damage and carbon footprint from what we eat. This is because many companies in Denmark mislead the public and make their products appear ‘green’, even when they are not. With this principled case, we want to bring the truth to light and stop the deception. Only in this way do we have a chance to defeat climate change,” says Frederik Roland Sandby, Secretary-General of the Climate Movement.

Since the case was filed, it has proven to be much more expensive than expected, as the case documents and scope have grown larger than initially anticipated. Major players such as the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri) and Agriculture & Food (Landbrug & Fødevarer) have joined the case in support of Danish Crown, while the Consumer Council Tænk has chosen to join the case as an intervener on the side of the Vegetarian Society of Denmark and the Climate Movement.

The climate lawsuit has become a reality thanks to a large number of Danes who have collectively donated over DKK 400,000 to the lawsuit through the website Private donations have in this case been crucial to the fight against greenwashing.

“We are very grateful for the strong support from the 1,700 Danes who have supported the lawsuit financially. Without their donations, the case would never have started, and we are deeply grateful for the strong support,” says Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl.

The lawsuit will take place on November 20-22 and December 4-6, 2023, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Western High Court in Viborg.


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