EU reaches deal banning ‘climate-neutral’ product claims

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From Tallbloke’s Talkshop

September 21, 2023 by oldbrew

Game over by 2026?
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The nonsense of climate greenwashing takes a hit, starting 2026.
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In the wake of longstanding complaints of greenwashing by consumer advocates, EU institutions finalised a new law on Tuesday (19 September) enacting a sweeping ban to combat the misleading of its citizens through erroneous claims of sustainability, reports Euractiv.

In March 2022, the European Commission proposed a law to empower consumers, which, following the conclusion of negotiations between EU countries and Parliament, will now ban companies from claiming that their products are climate-neutral.

“We have achieved an excellent deal for consumers,” said the S&D’s Biljana Borzan, a Croatian EU lawmaker who spearheaded the negotiations on behalf of Parliament.

The law, which still requires final approval by EU countries and the parliament’s plenary assembly – a formality – will be felt from 2026, as EU countries will be given two years’ time to adopt the changes.

Greenwashing, the practice of making misleading claims as to a product’s climate friendliness, is expected to cease rather quickly. “We are clearing the chaos of environmental claims, which will now have to be substantiated, and claims based on emissions offsetting will be banned,” said Borzan.

In practice, the changes will mean that companies are effectively prohibited from making such claims altogether.

“There is no such thing as ‘carbon-neutral’ or ‘CO2 neutral’ cheese, plastic bottles, flights or bank accounts. Carbon-neutral claims are greenwashing, plain and simple,” said Ursula Pachl, the deputy director of EU consumer advocates BEUC.

Frequent fliers may soon notice changes in airlines’ booking interfaces, where suspiciously cheap carbon offsetting offers will no longer be allowed to sell “climate-neutral” flying. After all, carbon offsetting is a practice reviled by activists for the rampant fraud in the industry and its non-permanent nature.

“The EU is sending a powerful signal to the voluntary carbon market: the era of offsetting is over,” said Gilles Dufrasne, policy lead at Carbon Market Watch.

The new law will also firm up rules around environmental claims, which will have to be backed by proof of recognised performance. Widespread product affixes like “Eco” and “natural” will need to be backed by solid evidence.

“The agreement is good news for all who want to shop sustainably,” cheered Anna Cavazzini, a green EU lawmaker in charge of the consumer protection committee.

Full report here.

A new EU law that’ll ban companies from making misleading “climate-neutral” claims has been agreed in Brussels. [European Parliament/Alexis HAULOT]