Bailout without climate conditions needs to be revoked.’

Amsterdam, October 7th, 2020 – Today, Greenpeace Netherlands has started a lawsuit against the Dutch government, demanding a withdrawal of the state aid for airline KLM, because it is in violation of the state’s duty of care. The Dutch government has failed to meet Greenpeace’s demands to attach binding climate conditions to the €3.4 billion bailout package for KLM. The proceedings will take place at the court in The Hague on 18 November. 

In the subpoena Greenpeace states that the €3.4 billion bailout for KLM is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Earlier, in the Urgenda Judgment, the Supreme Court confirmed that the state has a strong duty of care to protect citizens against dangerous consequences of climate change. 

‘Green conditions’ are outdated and paper-thin
“The ‘green conditions’ that the government has set for state aid for KLM are flimsy and nothing but window-dressing. They are non-binding and KLM has already committed to them in the Sustainable Aviation Agreement. KLM is not as green as it pretends. The government allows KLM to continue polluting while other companies have to lower their CO2-emissions. The exemption of such a major polluter is unacceptable. We must stop this as soon as possible by taking legal action; it is essential that the government imposes solid climate conditions”, says Dewi Zloch, Climate and Energy expert at Greenpeace.

The state’s climate obligations
Greenpeace demands that the Dutch government sets a cap on KLM’s CO2 emissions. “This emissions cap must then decrease annually, in line with the Paris Agreement, so that the major polluter emits less every year. Without stricter measures, CO2 emissions from Dutch aviation will increase. It is necessary, therefore, to reduce the number of flights considerably. Starting by cancelling short-haul flights of under a thousand kilometers. Several planes take off for Brussels and Paris every day. This is unacceptable in a time when we are being confronted with the consequences of climate change every day,’ says Zloch. The KLM bailout is in violation of the state’s obligations on climate change mitigation as described in the Urgenda judgment and the Paris Agreement. It is not a matter of political discretion, but of compliance with a legal obligation. If the court rules in favor of Greenpeace, the state can freely decide how it complies with that decision.

Future proof
“We need to pull together to build a sustainable economy. There is no future for companies that do not take climate action. This also applies to KLM, and the government can help by attaching binding climate conditions to its bailout. We want to emerge future proof from this covid crisis, ensuring job security for employees in the short, but also the long term. KLM will have to reduce its CO2 emissions step by step. Money and time is needed to support employees in a gradual transition to other jobs. The government can support this process by providing a fair bailout package. As it is, it is becoming increasingly clear that the billions of state aid will go to kerosene and lease companies and will not benefit the staff. KLM has just announced thousands of job cuts, despite the fact that the airline has already received more than €330 million in additional subsidies from the government to cover wages in the months of March, April and May.

The proceedings will take place in court in The Hague at 9:30 AM on Wednesday 18 November.

Notes for the editors
Matthijs Kettelerij, Press Officer Greenpeace Netherlands, 06-2129 6895