Commission plans to label single-used plastic packaging, biodiversity offsets, as ‘green’ in new Taxonomy Act

Posted on May, 09 2023

Environmental experts urge substantial improvements to the controversial EU Taxonomy Act to ensure science-based criteria and preserve environmental integrity.
A coalition of civil society organisations, including WWF, urges the European Commission not to allow further greenwashing of the EU Taxonomy, the EU’s flagship green investment guidebook. 

The EU closed a public consultation on a new text, known as the Environmental Taxonomy, or Taxo-4, which classifies activities as sustainable on the basis of their impacts on biodiversity, marine and freshwater ecosystems, pollution, and the circular economy. The coalition of CSOs responded to this public consultation with a detailed analysis of the Commission's criteria, which is outlined in an Executive Summary published today. This analysis seeks to defend and support the robust science-based recommendations prepared by the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance in the previous years. 

Sebastien Godinot, Senior Economist  at WWF European Policy Office, said:

“The EU Taxonomy was supposed to be a gold standard for green investments but is once again a mixed bag. This latest chapter of the Taxonomy gives a green label to biodiversity offsets - those activities carried out to compensate for a loss of biodiversity elsewhere. Offsets, by definition, exist to make up for a harmful activity - they are not an environmental solution. They were clearly excluded by the Platform.  The Taxonomy should not incentivise them.”

The coalition has identified three major areas of concern in the Commission’s text: 
  • It is based on unscientific criteria, which would give a green label to unsustainable activities such as single-use plastic 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 (1)
  • It weakens  key criteria on pollution, which would allow us to protect human health and the environment

Peter Sweatman, Chief Executive and Founder of Climate Strategy & Partners said: 

"We identified ten cross-cutting recommendations in a joint civil society, expert assessment, and I hope that the coherence and frame that this provides can help the Commission and its expert group check the consistency of the existing and upcoming categories."

We urge 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. 

Notes to editors:

1- “The agriculture and fishing criteria proposed by the EU Platform are robust and science-based. However, if the Commission is not prepared to fully align with the Platform proposal, we would prefer there to be no Delegated Act on agriculture and fishing than a greenwashed one. We would have to publicly oppose a greenwashed Delegated Act and consider every appropriate action to challenge it,” the analysis reads.
2- Please follow this link to read our detailed analysis of the Commission's criteria and this link to read our Executive Summary
Plastic ocean pollution. Whale Shark filter feeds in polluted ocean, ingesting plastic.
© Shutterstock / Rich Carey / WWF