Environmental experts have argued for substantial improvements to the controversial EU Taxonomy Act to ensure science-based criteria and preserve environmental integrity.
A coalition of civil society organisations has asked the European Commission not to allow further greenwashing of the EU Taxonomy on sustainable finance, the EU’s flagship green investment guidebook.
The group includes the European Environmental Bureau, WWF, Transport & Environment, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS), Chemsec, Birdlife, Climate Strategy & Partners, Climate & Company, Zero Waste Europe, Reclaim Finance, Germanwatch e.V., and E3G, among others.
The European Commission has conducted a public consultation on a new text, known as the Environmental Taxonomy, which proposes new sets of criteria to classify activities as sustainable on the basis of their contribution to the transition to the circular economy, protection of biodiversity, marine and freshwater ecosystems, and pollution prevention.
The CSOs responded to the public consultation with an analysis of the Commission’s criteria. This analysis seeks to defend and support the robust science-based recommendations prepared by the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance, the Commission’s expert group, in the previous years.
Marco Musso, policy officer on Fiscal Reform for Circular Economy and Carbon Neutrality at the EEB said: “Finally we see the EU Taxonomy addressing key pending environmental issues, such as the transition to the circular economy. Yet several crucial economic activities, for which robust and science-based criteria had been proposed by the expert group, were excluded from the draft acts. This decision was not made transparently and no justification was provided by the Commission.
It’s imperative for the credibility of the EU green agenda, that its list of sustainable investments is built on science-based recommendations.”
The coalition has identified three major areas of concern in the Commission’s draft text:
- It is based on unscientific criteria, which would give a green label to unsustainable activities such as the production of single-use plastics packaging, fossil-powered ships, aviation, and biodiversity offsets.
- There are critical activities left out of the text, such as the manufacture of chemicals, food and beverages, and forestry
- It weakens key criteria on pollution, which would allow us to protect human health and the environment
The coalition concluded by pleading with the European Commission to follow the science by listening to the recommendations of its own expert group, the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance, and to not further damage the credibility of the EU Taxonomy by including greenwashed criteria.
Dangers of greenwashing
The financial cost of greenwashing was recently highlighted In a new survey published by the Organic Trade Board (OTB) ahead of the first-ever Organic Textile Week (15-21 May 2023), which found 70% of respondents would be less likely to purchase from brands making false claims about their products being organic.
The survey of 2,000 people across the UK also found that 59% of respondents said they were “angry” or “disgusted” to find out that some clothing brands claiming to be organic may contain hazardous synthetic pesticides and other chemicals.
57% of respondents said that it’s important to them that the clothes and textiles they buy are genuinely sustainable.
However, over three-quarters of respondents were unsure or unclear of what the term certified organic textiles mean and almost a third of Brits didn’t know organic textiles or clothing even exist (29%). While 56% said they didn’t know how to recognise whether or not an item of clothing or textiles is certified organic or not.
The survey also revealed that 70% of those surveyed think it should be a legal requirement for clothing brands to adhere to a clear organic textile processing standard before being able to display the word organic on their products.
Cristina Dimetto, CEO of the OTB, commented: “For the first time in OTB history, we are launching an organic textile awareness week to raise awareness, contribute to consumers’ understanding and ultimately to fight greenwashing in textiles, including everything from clothing and childrenswear to house textiles and personal care. Our ambition is to make organic a conscious choice and not just a purchase.
“Every certified organic textile purchase makes a huge positive difference to ourselves, people and our planet. The partnership with GOTS reinforces the OTB commitment to bring the whole organic industry together, and to grow awareness and sales for organic in all its sectors.”
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