The European Union has taken a bold step towards combating greenwashing by banning misleading environmental claims that rely on offsetting. This move, set to take effect by 2026, is part of a broader crackdown on deceptive environmental marketing practices.

Terms such as “climate neutral,” “climate positive,” and other environmentally suggestive phrases that rely on carbon offsetting will be prohibited under the new directive. The European Parliament has outlawed the use of these terms without substantial evidence, signaling a major shift in the bloc’s approach towards sustainable marketing practices.

This legislation aims to address the growing concern over the environmental impact of carbon offsetting schemes. These schemes have often been used to label products as “carbon neutral,” implying that consumers can engage in certain activities without exacerbating the climate crisis.

“This new legislation puts an end to misleading advertising for supposedly environmentally friendly products and thus enables consumers to make sustainable choices,” said Anna Cavazzini, the Green MEP and chair of the Committee of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. She further added that, “Investments by companies in climate protection projects are welcome and of course they can still be communicated. However, it should no longer appear that planting trees in the rainforest makes the industrial production of a car, the organisation of a soccer World Cup or the production of cosmetics climate neutral. This deception is now a thing of the past. This is a great success for the environment, the climate and consumers.”

The directive comes after lengthy negotiations on the regulation of environmental claims within the EU. A deal reached in September was approved by lawmakers this Wednesday, giving member states two years to implement the rules.

This legislative milestone follows a joint investigation by The Guardian into forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading certifier, which revealed that more than 90% of offsets from a large sample of projects were worthless.

“This agreement is a big step towards more honest commercial practices and more informed European consumers. The European Union is taking leadership in combating greenwashing,” said Lindsay Otis, a policy expert on global carbon markets at CMW.

This move by the EU marks a significant step forward in the fight against greenwashing and misleading environmental claims. It sets an example for other regions to follow suit, fostering a more transparent and accountable global market.

Source: The Guardian