Plastic litigation: significant risks for investors and fresh legal stand against polluters by 14 NGOs

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© Tingey Injury Law Firm

INSIGHT by ClientEarth


Background: A report by FairFin revealed that several of the world’s biggest international banks have collectively invested almost €22 billion in just two petrochemical companies – INEOS and Borealis – over the past five years, exposing themselves to significant financial risk.


Lawyers at ClientEarth, together with 14 NGOs, have taken a fresh legal stand against INEOS, as the petrochemicals giant continues its efforts to build Europe’s biggest plastics project.

The environmental groups have now launched their new case against the Flemish authorities, marking a new phase in their long legal battle against INEOS’ ‘Project One’.

The action follows a court ruling in July that sent the €3 billion plastics project back to square one.

According to the environmental groups, INEOS has once again failed to detail to authorities the true impact of the development on people, nature and the climate – not just in the region, but along the full value chain, including “Scope 3” emissions. The groups argue that the Flemish authorities’ approval of the project without first demanding a full assessment of its impacts is illegal under both EU and national laws.

 

 “Plastics are an environmental issue, a people issue and a climate issue. Allowing what would be the largest plastics facility in Europe to go ahead would not just be a local disaster, but a global affront. Project One would help fuel more plastic production when we’re already at saturation point. Plastics are made from fossil fuels, so their production is catastrophic for the climate at every stage. The far-reaching consequences of this project are very real and cannot go unaccounted for.

“The changes made to the project’s new permit are just window dressing. The fact remains that Project One is both hugely destructive and completely unnecessary. However, the authorities have once again failed to acknowledge the blatant, toxic repercussions of the project, so we have no choice but to go back to court.”

-ClientEarth lawyer Tatiana Luján

 

“Project One would help fuel more plastic production when we’re already at saturation point. Plastics are made from fossil fuels, so their production is catastrophic for the climate at every stage. The far-reaching consequences of this project are very real and cannot go unaccounted for.

“The changes made to the project’s new permit are just window dressing. The fact remains that Project One is both hugely destructive and completely unnecessary. However, the authorities have once again failed to acknowledge the blatant, toxic repercussions of the project, so we have no choice but to go back to court.”

The ruling in the summer was on a parallel case by the Dutch authorities, which mobilised after realising the extent of the Project One’s nitrogen impacts, which would creep over the border. The Netherlands has been struggling with nitrogen over-pollution and billions of Euros have been approved to buy out farmers and reduce nitrogen emissions as a result. Project One would pose an additional burden to the Netherland’s effort to clean up.

Once the legal action is declared admissible by the Council of Permit Disputes, the Flemish authorities can submit their arguments against the groups’ case.

 


All opinions expressed are those of the author and/or quoted sources. investESG.eu is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around ESG investing topics.