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Conversation starter: EU regulates carbon neutral marketing

January 24, 2024

It’s been a busy month for climate news. Let’s take a look and consider how this may impact CEA farmers!

The international community is taking climate change seriously

Earlier this month, representatives of the world’s governments met in Dubai as part of the COP28 climate change conference. They agreed that attempts to mitigate climate change have been implemented too slowly. Climate change continues to threaten a future where increasing portions of the planet will be rendered uninhabitable by increases in flooding, drought, storms, and extreme temperatures. 

In response, COP28 attendees formulated a number of commitments “to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels to renewables such as wind and solar power in their next round of climate commitments.”

Confusing carbon offsets aren’t good enough to claim neutrality

Last week, following the conference, the Guardian reports that the European Union announced: “Terms such as “climate neutral” or “climate positive” that rely on offsetting will be banned from the EU by 2026 as part of a crackdown on misleading environmental claims.”

In recent years the “offsets” market has rocketed in value. It claims that by planting new trees or preventing deforestation, it is possible to offset carbon emissions. This has proven immensely popular for companies like Shell that want to appear carbon neutral without reducing their own production of fossil fuels. It has also proven lucrative for the companies that carry out the offsets and sell “carbon credits” to corporations.

However, a number of investigations have cast doubt on these claims. Not only are many offset projects failing to capture the amount of carbon they claim, they are enabling the worst climate offenders to make misleading and confusing claims to consumers.

Lindsay Otis, a policy expert on global carbon markets says: “Carbon neutrality claims have been shown to be unintelligible to consumers, and they must stop. Today marks the end of outlandish and baseless advertisements that tell European consumers that they can take carbon-neutral flights, wear carbon-neutral clothes, and eat carbon-neutral food.”

The continued role of CEA

So how does this impact CEA farmers? We hope this can be a conversation starter, but here’s a few of our thoughts!

  • NASA has confirmed that 2023 was the hottest year on record. Although climate change has been politicized in the US and other countries, COP28 was an affirmation of the need for a serious response.
  • Thankfully, CEA is already a part of the solution. Our customers and others in this industry grow food with less resource consumption, and can grow closer to the point of sale, reducing the amount of fuel used for transportation.
  • CEA doesn’t need to rely on any sort of confusing messaging about carbon offsets. It is a straightforward way to grow food with minimized impact to the climate.
  • Farmers must keep these climate advantages front and center when planning customer-facing marketing and pitches to investors, and should continue to be on the lookout for grants and tax advantages that favor such climate-friendly food production!

What do you think? Shoot us an email to let us know, or share this article on social media and keep the conversation going with your customers and peers!

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