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International Enforcement of Environmental Laws via Private Law Applications: "Greenwashing downunder"

Michael Adams


There are a number of international treaties that deal with environmental false claims and in particular in Europe for the generic concept of “greenwash”. Unfortunately, very few regulators and environmental protection agencies (and similar bodies) have had much success in enforcing internal laws. However, in respect of state laws there has been some limited successes. The growth in class actions and opportunity for consumers as “citizen scientists” has created opportunities for greedy corporations to be held to account for false and misleading practising, involving claims of environmental or climate changing practices. In the corporate world, as investors rely more on environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) reports, the shareholder activism and consumer rights are being enforced from VW pollution claims to Mercer’s Sustainable Superannuation fund (investing in fossil fuel). This paper will unpack the various routes and opportunities for the private enforcement of public international laws and its likely success.