Carbon credits company, Prime Carbon, has been found guilty by the Federal Court of Australia of making misleading green claims.
Prime Carbon is a private company that produces and trades carbon credits created through soil enhancement and carbon sequestration programs.
Justice Jeffrey Spender found it was in breach of the Trade Practices Act between July 2008 and last December by claiming an association with the National Stock Exchange of Australia that it did not have.
He also found that between July and December 2008 Prime Carbon had made misrepresentations concerning the National Environment Registry. Those claims included that the registry was regulated by the federal government, which it is not, and that the registry had an arrangement with the Chicago Environment Registry, which it does not.
The court orders follow action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and its sole director Kenneth Bellamy in December. Mr Bellamy was found to have been knowingly involved in the misleading conduct.
Justice Spender ordered Mr Bellamy to undertake compliance training, to desist from engaging in such conduct, to publicise the court’s orders to its customers and on its website, and for Prime Carbon to pay the commission’s court costs.
The commission’s chairman, Graeme Samuel, said the result should send a message about greenwashing your marketing.
”Companies operating in the carbon credit market need to be on alert: the ACCC is closely monitoring this industry sector, and if you are making representations that you cannot substantiate, we will take action to ensure your compliance with the act,” he said.
In January Mr Samuel said there had been an alarming rise in complaints about misleading green advertising, from none two years ago to about 500 since early 2008.
He called on Parliament to pass laws that would give the commission powers to issue fines of up to $1.1 million. ”Financially there are no implications at the present time for making misleading comments about green issues,” he said.
Prime Carbon did not return calls.