The European Commission has announced a new Directive on Green Claims, which will require businesses to substantiate their environmental claims before they can be made. The Directive, which is still in draft form, is expected to be finalized and adopted by the European Parliament and Council in early 2024.
The Directive aims to tackle greenwashing, the practice of making misleading environmental claims in order to sell products or services. Greenwashing can be difficult to identify, as it can often involve the use of technical language or scientific jargon. The new Directive will make it easier for consumers to identify greenwashing by requiring businesses to provide evidence to support their claims using robust, science-based and verifiable methods.
Businesses will have to be much more transparent about their environmental impact. This has led to some concerns from business – not just the greenwashers themselves. Companies will be required to provide information on their products’ environmental impact, such as the amount of greenhouse gas emissions they produce. This information, which may be time-consuming and difficult to produce, will help consumers make more informed decisions about the products they buy, says the Commission.
The Directive has been welcomed by many environmental campaigners, who argue that it will help to protect consumers from greenwashing. But some have claimed that it has been watered down, following corporate lobbying. Critics point to the fact that there will not be controls over claims such as “carbon neutrality”, leaving lack of clarity and little opportunity for enforcement.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Margaux Le Gallou, programme manager at the NGO Environmental Coalition on Standards said: “The commission got so much pushback that they removed everything that was concrete, left the principles and left a scene-setting for more to come.” She continued: “It’s too vague with too much left to later.”
The Directive is part of a broader effort by the European Commission to tackle climate change and environmental degradation. The Commission has also proposed a number of other measures, such as a ban on single-use plastics and a new law on sustainable finance.
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