Ecological pressure group Greenpeace has lost a legal bid to impose stronger environmental conditions for state aid intended for Dutch carrier KLM.

A court in The Hague has rejected the case brought by Greenpeace, which had argued that this obligation for stricter conditions rested on the government under United Nations climate treaties among other agreements.

Greenpeace had insisted that the government should discontinue the financial support unless KLM took measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to specific levels. It had claimed that the government was “not taking sufficient measures” to achieve the objectives of the Paris climate accord, and that it had not ordered specific measures against the aviation sector.

But the judge in the case ruled on 9 December that the Dutch state is “not obliged” to attach conditions to the aid package equivalent to the demands put forward by Greenpeace.

KLM aircraft 2020

Source: KLM

KLM has been granted financial aid from the government to cope with the air transport crisis

KLM does not operate domestic services, so its carbon dioxide emissions essentially result entirely from international services.

But the judgement says that emission contributions to which countries have committed under the Paris climate agreement – on which Greenpeace’s case relies – “only relate to the reduction of domestic emissions” and “do not include” those from cross-border aviation.

This means that no emission-reduction obligation on the government can be derived in relation to cross-border aviation, it says.

The judge has rejected Greenpeace’s claim and ordered it to pay the costs of the proceedings.

Greenpeace says it is “disappointed” with the verdict, adding that it “allows KLM to continue to pollute”.

While it stresses that it will “respect” the court’s decision, the organisation states that the judgement “does not remove the pressure on the government to tackle aviation pollution”.