How to improve the International Standard on carbon neutrality

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Photovoltaic systems are one option for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
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The International Organization for Standardizations (ISO) last year published the first standard on carbon neutrality of organizations and products. In a new factsheet, the German Environment Agency (UBA) outlines its strength and shortcomings and draws some conclusions relevant to companies, verifiers, courts and policymakers.

As more companies make “carbon neutrality” claims and as public awareness of greenwashing rises, the ISO last year published a new standard on carbon neutrality: ISO 14068-1. It addresses legal entities seeking GHG-neutrality certificates for an organization or a product.

In a factsheet, the UBA takes a look at ISO 14068-1, describes its process and content and evaluates it from a climate policy perspective. There is no doubt that the standard provides for better carbon-neutrality claims. However, it has considerable shortcomings. One such flaw is that it makes it possible for legal entities, companies and products to make GHG neutrality claims despite high emissions. It also lacks solid safeguards against inadequate GHG removal techniques and provides insufficient provisions against double counting of GHG reductions and removals. UBA believes that companies that claim GHG-neutrality are only credible if they consequently minimize GHG emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and actively mitigate the negative environmental impact of some GHG removals.

Courts handling legal complaints and cases regarding GHG neutrality claims, should base their judgement not only on the compliance with ISO 14068-1. The EU and Germany should introduce legal regulations to ban misleading GHG-neutrality claims. The anticipated EU Directive on Empowering Consumers and the planned Green Claims Directive will set the legal frame for future court rulings. Finally, ISO should revise the carbon neutrality standard as soon as possible to fix its shortcomings.

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 carbon neutrality  carbon neutral  Greenhouse gas emissions