, 10 July 2009
Ecotricity will sue EDF for 'stealing' green Union Jack.
Energy companies were emitting enough hot air to run a small generator tonight in a spat about who was the greenest and most patriotic.
The unseemly squabble was triggered by EDF, the French state-owned nuclear group, which has organised a Green Britain Day for tomorrow. Its slogan: "Do something green for the team," urging the public to support the battle against climate change, is accompanied by a green Union Jack.
But its upfront advertising and patriotic claims have led rival Ecotricity to launch legal action against EDF for "stealing" its planet-friendly Union Jack logo.
British Gas and Npower have both drawn up adverts ridiculing EDF's day of celebrations saying "every day" is green Britain day inside their companies.
EDF is using its position as a "sustainability partner" of the 2012 Olympic Games in London to launch its first annual Green Britain Day and asking schools and others to join "Team Green Britain".
Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, said: "We want to harness the power of the Games to bring people together across communities to take collective action against climate change."
But Dale Vince, chief executive of Ecotricity, said the initiative should be dubbed Greenwash Day "to celebrate that relatively modern phenomenon of companies trying to sell themselves as being rather greener and more ethical than they are".
EDF, argued Vince, was in no position to wrap inself in a green mantle given it was one of the world's biggest producers of nuclear waste and one of the largest burners of coal.
More seriously, Ecotricity, a small but growing company that promises to invest customers' cash in new wind projects, says it will challenge EDF in the High Court next week for painting its vans with a green British flag, very similar to the one used by Dale's firm.
"Our legal advice says we have a good case and we are working on this now. We asked EDF to stop but all I got was a phone call from (the head of public relations) Andrew Brown, the prime minister's brother, who said they had spent millions on all this and could not stop now," said Vince.
Meanwhile, British Gas ran adverts today which said the company "is thinking about new ways to be green every single day", and Npower is rolling out ads for its educational programme, Climate Cops, featuring the strapline: "Every day's a green day for Climate Cops."
EDF said today that Green Britain Day was just part of a whole raft of climate change initiatives being pursued by a company that could rightly claim to be the biggest low carbon producer of energy in Britain.
A spokesman said EDF Energy was a UK company with 5.5m customers and 20,000 staff that happened to be owned by a French parent. "The Union flag is owned by the Crown and is a national symbol, turning it green is a good way to draw people's attention to focus on action needed to tackle global warming."
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