Lawmakers at the European Parliament and EU Council announced that they have reached a provisional agreement on new rules aimed at protecting consumers from misleading sustainability claims and greenwashing practices, including bans on unverified generic environmental claims and those based on emissions offsetting schemes.

The agreement follows the release in March 2022 by the EU Commission of a set of proposals to amend the EU’s existing rules aimed at protecting consumers from unfair commercial practices such as untruthful or aggressive advertising and providing consumers with information on products, to include considerations relating to the green transition. A recent study by the Commission found that more than half of green claims by companies in the EU were vague or misleading, and 40% were completely unsubstantiated.

Alberto Garzón Espinosa, Acting Spanish Minister for Consumer Affairs, said:

“Citizens are suffering the consequences of climate change and want to be part of the solution. With the compromise reached today consumers will have the necessary information to make the right green choices and will be better protected against green washing, social washing and other unfair commercial practices. This is essential to allow them to play an active role in the common struggle for a greener and fairer Europe.”

Under the new agreement, the EU’s rules will be updated to ban generic environmental claims such as “environmentally friendly” or “climate neutral,” unless proof of “recognised excellent environmental performance” is provided, along with claims that a product has a positive or reduced impact on the environment based on emissions offsetting. The new rules also prohibit the use of sustainability labels that are not based on approved certification schemes, and also includes rules addressing early obsolescence.

EU Parliament rapporteur Biljana Borzan said that with the new rules, lawmakers are “clearing the chaos of environmental claims, which will now have to be substantiated, and claims based on emissions offsetting will be banned.”

Following the provisional agreement, the new rules will advance for formal endorsement and adoption by the Council and Parliament.