In an attempt to stop consumer products greenwashing, the EU will ban claims such as “climate neutral” or “eco” unless companies can prove their accuracy. The rules are expected to come into force by 2026.
This change, which was agreed on Sept. 19, will also outlaw claims on carbon neutrality that are based on emissions offsetting, as well as green labels that do not come from approved sustainability programs. CO2 offsetting schemes have faced criticism for their lack of credibility, as some of those schemes allocate money to projects that do not effectively remove or store CO2 emissions over extended periods of time.
The law still requires the approval of the European Parliament and the member states but EU lawmakers rarely refuse approval, according to Financial Times. “We are clearing the chaos of environmental claims,” said the MEP Biljana Borzan, who led the negotiations for the European parliament on the new rules. If enacted, the new law would make the European Union the world’s toughest region when it comes to public green claims.
The phrases that could potentially be banned include “green”, “nature’s friend”, “energy efficient” and “biodegradable,” except for cases when the consumer products show “excellent environmental performance.”
Last October, Carbon Market Watch issued an investigation of the 2022 Fifa World Cup’s claim to be CO2 neutral, which said that the organizers’ estimate of the event’s emissions did not accurately reflect the actual footprint as a result of the tournament.
This new agreement is an important step “toward more honest commercial practices and more informed European consumers,” said Lindsay Otis, policy expert on global carbon markets at Carbon Market Watch, as reported by Financial Times.