Green claims using the example of "climate neutrality"

Many products advertise with the claim "climate neutral". However, there are no regulations on so-called "green claims" at either European or national level.

The Wettbewerbszentrale is currently in proceedings against a number of manufacturers in order to clarify under which conditions companies are allowed to use the term "climate neutral" and what further information, if any, has to be provided.

In previous judgements in the food sector, various manufacturers were defeated by the Wettbewerbszentrale. The respective courts ruled, i. a., that consumers are misled if the actual production process is not climate-neutral, but climate-neutrality is achieved, for example, by supporting climate protection projects or by purchasing certificates.

The recent judgement on "green claims" deals with the claim "climate neutral" on trash bag packaging (Ref.: 6 U 46/21). It represents a turnaround in the previous case law. The Higher Regional Court of Schleswig-Holstein is of the opinion that the present case is not misleading, as the advertising statement "climate neutral" does not suggest that the manufacturing company exclusively produces climate neutral goods. In addition, the court further explained that the term "climate neutrality", unlike the fuzzy term "environmental friendliness", represents an unambiguous statement, namely the reference to a compensated CO2 balance. Furthermore, the claim "climate-neutral" does not imply that the compensated balance is achieved through the complete avoidance of emissions. This applies all the more if the claim is combined with a clearly visible indication that climate protection projects are supported. A more specific reference to the type and scope of the compensation measures is not required.

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