The move to eco efficiency appears to have fuelled a new breed of retail scams after the Federal Court were recently forced to take action against Global Green Plan Ltd, a company that is currently working with schools in Victoria and has links with Rupert Murdoch’s mother Dame Elizabeth.
In new rulings the Federal Court has declared that Global Green Plan Ltd breached a court enforceable undertaking given to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in December 2009 in relation to its retail ‘GreenPower’ business, GreenSwitch.
Global Green Plan, who is openly soliciting donations to their organisation, claims that they are currently working with Williamstown High School in Victoria to train students to become ambassadors for sustainable development. The organisation also has links with Dame Elizabeth Murdoch.
We were unable to contact the listed President of Global Green Plan Ltd due to the Victorian listed phone number on their web site www.globalgreenplan.net being disconnected.
Dame Elizabeth Murdoch, the mother of News Limited Boss Rupert Murdoch, recently told US President Obama of a Global Green Plan Foundation project of which she is patron, which is developing an environmentally focused Victorian school curriculum warning of the dangers of climate change.
The curriculum, aimed at middle-years students, was launched recently at Williamstown High School in Melbourne, where Dame Elizabeth was described by Global Green Plan foundation president Hal Hewett as “the world’s only centenarian climate change campaigner”.
The ACCC said that during 2006 to 2008 GreenSwitch was accredited to buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECS) on behalf of consumers under the National GreenPower Accreditation Program.
A visit to the GreenSwitch web site reveals a message that the organisation is no longer accredited to sell renewable energy certificates.
Whilst operating GreenSwitch, Global Green Plan accepted payments from customers on the proviso that the money would be used to buy the RECS. However, not all of the money provided to Global Green Plan by customers was used to purchase the RECS. The shortfall amounted to 4,137 RECS which Global Green Plan should have purchased, but did not.
Along with declaring that Global Green Plan breached the undertaking, the court also ordered, by consent, that Global Green Plan now buy the outstanding RECS by 30 November 2010 and pay the ACCC’s legal costs.
“This outcome demonstrates the importance the ACCC places on monitoring businesses in the ‘green’ space,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said today.
“This conduct affected consumers who wanted to do their part for the environment. The consumers provided money to Global Green Plan on the basis that it would be used to support renewable energy,” he said.
According to the undertaking, Global Green Plan was to make up for the shortfall by purchasing the outstanding 4,137 RECS by March 2009. When it failed to do so, the ACCC instituted proceedings in the Federal Court for breach of the undertaking. Global Green Plan admitted that it hadn’t bought the RECS and that it had breached the undertaking.
Mr Samuel said that the court’s findings maintained the integrity of the undertaking process.
“The acceptance and enforcement of undertakings is an important part of machinery in the administration of the Trade Practices Act. They are a useful tool in resolving matters without the need for costly and lengthy court processes. However, if an undertaking is offered and accepted, it must be complied with. The ACCC will not hesitate to enforce undertakings in court where necessary.”
There is no evidence that Dame Elizabeth knew of the issues between Global Green Plan Ltd and the ACCC.