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Legal activists double down on greenwashing claims against Z Energy

Wednesday 20 Mar 24 12:15pm

Media release | Consumer NZ, the Environmental Law Initiative and Lawyers for Climate Action NZ are doubling down on claims that Z Energy is greenwashing New Zealanders.

According to Z Energy’s latest annual report, released on 29 February 2024, its total emissions are continuing to increase.


“Z Energy continues to claim it is ‘in the business of getting out of the petrol business’, while at the same time the emissions from its fossil fuel sales are increasing,” said Jon Duffy, chief executive of Consumer NZ.


The fuel sold by Z Energy counts for about 14% of New Zealand’s total emissions budget.


Z Energy's latest greenhouse gas inventory report shows that its fuel sales over 2023 were the highest they have been over the past 5 years.


“While Z Energy talks about having ‘ambitious emissions reduction targets’, it is actually talking about its own operational emissions, things like its company cars and electricity use.


“Its reduction targets do not include the emissions from the fuel it sells, which let’s face it, is the biggest source of its emissions,” said Duffy.


“To find out the truth behind the marketing, Z customers would need to sift through the company’s annual reports – should they have to?“


Consumer’s sentiment tracking has consistently found that nine in ten New Zealanders are mindful of where they spend their money, and about half of us will change brands if we think another brand’s products are more sustainable.


Advocates seek court action

Late last year, Consumer, the Environmental Law Initiative and Lawyers for Climate Action NZ lodged a claim with the High Court seeking declarations that Z Energy has breached the Fair Trading Act by misleading New Zealanders with its public messaging. The case is currently going through the court process.


The trio say that Z Energy’s public statements and advertising have created the impression that the fuel giant was making bold changes to reduce its emissions and working at pace to mitigate its contribution to the climate crisis, while in fact, Z Energy’s actions do not line up with this impression.


“The allegations of misleading conduct are particularly concerning because people trust Z more than any other fuel brand in New Zealand.


“Even though Z’s stated intent may be to ‘get out of the petrol business’, so far, its actions do not live up to that intent. As far as we are concerned, this is a prime example of greenwashing.”


Misplaced trust?

Consumer’s latest research found that one in five New Zealanders have a high level of trust in Z Energy, and over a quarter of New Zealanders agree that Z Energy is making genuine efforts to operate in a more sustainable way. This surpasses the results for other fuel retailers.


“Z’s customers are choosing a brand that self-proclaims an intent to become ‘part of the [climate change] solution’. What we’re saying is, if Z’s total emissions are increasing, where’s the evidence to back up the green glow?


“We are hoping to get the case to the High Court as soon as possible. It’s vital that a precedent is set to protect New Zealanders from greenwashing, and to support businesses who are carefully considering the claims they are making through their marketing and doing their best to protect our people and our planet.”

Related Topics: Energy | Transport


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