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EU comes closer to regulating greenwashing

Jul 9, 2024 European Union
EU comes closer to regulating greenwashing
The Council of the European Union has adopted its general approach on the Green Claims Directive, which aims to tackle greenwashing and help consumers make greener choices. The proposal will now be negotiated in the European Parliament
“Today, we reached an important agreement to fight greenwashing by setting rules on clear, sufficient and evidence-based information on the environmental characteristics of products and services. Our aim is to help European citizens to make well-founded green choices”, commented Alain Maron, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for climate change, environment, energy and participatory democracy.

Designed to work in parallel with the Empowering Consumers Directive, this new proposal specifically targets explicit environmental claims (written or oral text) and environmental labels used voluntarily by companies when marketing their green credentials, including the environmental impacts, aspects or performance of a product or trade. It also applies to existing and future environmental labelling schemes, both public and private ones. The goal is to make environmental claims and labels clear and easy to understand by consumers.

In line with the Commission proposal, the General Approach maintains mandatory pre-verification of environmental claims by third-party independent experts but introduces a simplified procedure: eligible companies can demonstrate compliance through a technical document before using the claim. In addition, micro companies will have 14 months more than other businesses to comply with those rules and several support measures have been added to help SMEs during this procedure.

The Green Claims Directive also introduces new requirements for the substantiation of climate-related claims, including those involving carbon credits. Furthermore, it distinguishes between contribution claims (carbon credits to contribute to climate action) and offset claims (carbon credits to balance out and emissions share); the latter must demonstrate a net-zero target and show progress towards decarbonisation, including an indication of the percentage of total greenhouse gas emissions that have been offset.

The Council’s general approach will be the basis for negotiations with the European Parliament. Negotiations on the final shape of the Directive are expected to begin in the new legislative cycle. This directive is part of a wider strategy under the European Green Deal.

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