EU bans ‘misleading’ environmental claims that rely on offsetting

The European Parliament has taken steps to address misleading environmental claims by banning terms like "climate neutral" and "climate positive" that rely on offsetting. This decision is part of a broader crackdown on deceptive environmental labeling. The ban also encompasses terms such as "environmentally friendly," "natural," "biodegradable," and "eco" unless there is supporting evidence.

Moreover, the directive introduces a total ban on using carbon offsetting schemes to substantiate environmental claims. The move is prompted by concerns about the reliability and impact of carbon offsetting practices, which have been used to justify labeling products as "carbon neutral." Such claims can imply that consumers can engage in activities like flying, purchasing new items, or consuming specific foods without exacerbating the climate crisis.

Under the new directive, only sustainability labels backed by approved certification schemes will be allowed in the European Union. This regulation aims to ensure transparency and credibility in environmental claims, preventing companies from making misleading assertions about the environmental attributes of their products.

The directive comes after months of negotiations on how environmental claims should be regulated in the EU. A deal was reached in September and was approved by lawmakers, giving member states two years to implement the new rules.

This decision is seen as a significant step in combating greenwashing, where companies make exaggerated or false claims about the environmental benefits of their products or practices. It reflects a commitment to more honest commercial practices and aims to empower consumers to make informed choices by eliminating misleading environmental advertising. The ban on terms like "climate-neutral" based on CO2 offsetting is particularly highlighted as a positive step toward addressing deceptive practices in marketing.

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