News 05.02.2024

EU Parliament Votes to Ban Misleading 'Climate-Neutral' Advertising

  • Misleading product labelling
  • Transparency and food safety

In January, the European Parliament voted by 94 percent in favour of a ban on environmental advertising claims such as "climate neutral". The statement, often emblazoned on food products, is misleading.  

The directive, named "Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition", targets the practice of labelling products such as mineral water in plastic bottles or meat as 'climate-neutral'. This has been a point of contention, arguing that such claims mislead consumers about the true environmental impact of these products. The issue at hand is the reliance on cheap certificates from questionable climate protection projects, allowing companies to ostensibly 'offset' their carbon footprint without making genuine efforts to reduce emissions. 

The food industry wants to profit from people's desire for more climate protection and is even marketing climate-damaging products such as mineral water in plastic bottles or meat as 'climate-neutral'. It is a step in the right direction that the EU Parliament has put a stop to misleading climate-neutral advertising.
Manuel Wiemann foodwatch Germany

Real eco actions, over offsetting 

Under the new directive, terms such as "biodegradable" or "biobased" will also face strict scrutiny. These labels will be banned as general environmental claims unless companies can demonstrate significant environmental performance in relation to the claim. This move comes in light of findings from the German Federal Environment Agency, which states that bio-based plastics are no more sustainable than conventional plastics, and that single-use products made from biodegradable plastics offer no advantages over other single-use plastic products. 

The directive has been under discussion for two years and has undergone a trialogue process among the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of Ministers. With the European Parliament's approval, the law now awaits confirmation by the Council of Ministers, which is generally considered a formality. 

This decision by the EU Parliament is not just a regulatory change; it represents a shift towards more responsible consumerism and a significant step in the fight against climate change. It underscores the European Union's commitment to protecting the climate and upholding consumer rights, ensuring that the push for a greener future is not undermined by misleading advertising practices.