Carbon neutral is just a decoy

Companies are increasingly capitalising on consumers’ climate sensitivity and the willingness to pay more for products with sustainable labels. Yet experts are raising the alarm that many of these labels are, in fact, misleading.

More manufacturers are branding their products with a ‘carbon neutral’ logo to mark that “all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been offset.” However, consumer protection organisation Test-Achats and climate think tank Carbon Market Watch are arguing it constitutes greenwashing.

“A carbon-neutral claim on a product gives the impression that the product has no impact on the climate because all the carbon emitted would be offset, but it is impossible to guarantee this,” stated Gwendolyn Maertens, a nutrition expert at Test-Achats.

“As a result, this claim can be misleading for consumers and is even a form of greenwashing,” which occurs when a company markets its products or services as ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ without being able to prove it.

The organisations argued that the plethora of terms used – carbon neutral, climate neutral, net zero, 100% carbon offset – often obfuscates the truth to consumers so that they do not fully understand what is being done to minimise environmental impact.

False and undefined credits

Experts conducted a joint study of 13 “carbon neutral” products sold in supermarkets – including coffee, pizza, cheese, bananas and bottles of water – and stated that the results confirm that these labels are “far from reliable.”

Climate neutrality is claimed to be obtained by purchasing carbon credits, meaning that the company contributes financially to certain projects, such as renewable energy or reforestation projects, to capture the amount of carbon they emit through production.

The organisations found that this credit system is unreliable due to the temporary nature of the solution, the lack of a guarantee that the projects will in fact reduce CO2 emissions and the fact that reductions can be easily overestimated.

Related posts

Leave a Comment