In the wake of increasing impacts of climate change, many firms have started to sell their products as “climate neutral“. For companies, this means at first reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as much as possible and then, fully offsetting the remaining emissions.
But different countries have different requirements in this regard . In France the Law to Combat Climate Change and Strengthen Resilience to its Impacts was passed in August 2021 which demands much stricter regulation regarding the advertising of products with the label “climate neutral”.
According to the responsible minister who refers to an opinion of the ADEME (Agence de la transition ecologique), the term “climate neutral” for a product is described as misleading. This is in line with the French consumer law, which bases its definition on the IPCC, whereby climate neutrality is defined as a state that can only be achieved globally, and not by a single company. Accordingly, companies may no longer use the term “climate neutral” or an equivalent wording, except for listing the following three elements:
- A balance of GHG emissions, including direct and indirect emissions of the product or service. In this context, it is envisaged that any discrepancy between the reduction path announced by the company and the actual level of emissions will lead to the immediate withdrawal of the claim “climate neutral”, which is then to be considered misleading within the meaning of consumer law.
- A description of the approach used to reduce GHG emissions from the product through avoidance, reduction, and offset. This GHG reduction pathway should be described using annual quantified progress targets.
- An explanation for the consumer of how the compensation mechanism behind the term “CO2 neutrality” works. The idea is to comply with certain minimum standards, which are set by decree.
In addition, the product must be labeled with a short notice such as “Each product emits GHGs that contribute to climate change” or at least “More information on offsetting” that links to the respective company’s website.
If these conditions are not respected, the French administrative authority may penalize responsible authorities with a fine of €20,000 for a natural person and €100,000 for a legal entity. It leaves the possibility of increasing these amounts up to the total amount spent on the illegal action.
Therefore, without concrete evidence such as a Product Carbon Footprint (PCF), a quantified reduction path with annual emissions savings, and details on offsetting, companies who sell their products in France should no longer speak of “climate neutral” but “CO2 compensated”.
If you also want to markeet your products in compliance with French regulation under the concept of climate neutrality, DFGE is at your side with helpful support from experts. The DFGE climate strategy helps you to achieve climate neutrality – and this on a scientific basis with many years of experience of our employees. Our offer includes the preparation of PCFs, qualified reduction paths and support in the selection of offsetting projects. For more information take a look at the DFGE solution. If you have further questions, please contact us via or by phone at +49 8192-99733-20.