Greenpeace demand to stop KLM bailout dismissed

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A court in the Hague rejected Greenpeace’s claim to impose stronger environmental conditions on state-supported KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. 

In its claim, the environmental organization Greenpeace insisted that the government should discontinue supporting KLM Royal Dutch Airlines due to its alleged inability to meet environmental conditions. The organization claimed that the Dutch government failed to force the airline to make its business more sustainable. 

On December 9, 2020, the court said the demands made by Greenpeace exceeded the climate goals for the aviation industry which had been agreed upon internationally and dismissed the organization’s demand, reported Reuters. Greenpeace was also ordered to pay the costs of the court.

KLM does not operate domestic flights and its CO2 emission results mostly from the international services. The judge ruled that the Dutch state can only be responsible for the environmental impact within the Netherlands, while cross-border pollution is out of the government’s control. 

“This verdict doesn’t take the pressure off the government to tackle the pollution caused by aviation. The current bailout package enables KLM to keep recklessly polluting while other companies, and our country, are under heavy scrutiny to reduce their carbon emissions. The Dutch commitment to the Paris Agreement is to decrease those emissions every year, which translates to industry meeting those targets as well. The aviation industry has to become more sustainable inevitably and we will continue to push for it. Now we are twice as motivated to take action,” said Dewi Zloch, Climate and Energy expert at Greenpeace. 

KLM secured an aid package from the government in June 2020. The aid was provided with strict conditions including a reduction in flights, a limitation of wages and the pursuit of environmental targets. The airline agreed to cut the number of flights by 20% in order to reduce noise in Amsterdam and boost train travel. KLM also has to reduce CO2 emissions per passenger by 2% by 2030.

Greenpeace argued that the conditions were not strict enough and would not reduce the airline’s CO2 emission enough. On November 18, 2020, Greenpeace asked the court to block $4 billion state-guaranteed loans intended to keep KLM operations through the coronavirus crisis.


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