Oil and Gas industry can’t be allowed “greenwash” new EU taxonomy plans

Duncan Smith TD
22 April 2021
  • Carbon Footprint Labelling Bill from Duncan Smith would allow people see beyond the marketing.

Labour climate spokesperson Duncan Smith has called on Government to prevent any attempt by the oil and gas industry to label gas from fossil fuels as ‘green’ in the proposed new EU taxonomy.

Reacting to the EU Sustainable Finance package, Deputy Smith said that while he welcomed the EU’s attempt to level the playing field on what is a ‘green’ investment, the first priority should be to equip ordinary people with practical knowledge of every day products to achieve true incremental change.

Ireland has an opportunity to help the EU be a world leader and achieve its target of being the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 if practical legislation such as Labour’s Carbon Footprint Labelling Bill were to be implemented.

Deputy Smith said:

“Information is currency for meaningful climate action, and the EU’s work to introduce a labelling scheme is welcome. However, I have huge reservations about the signal the EU is sending by delaying a decision on the categorisation of gas from fossil fuels until the autumn. That leaves a wide gap of time for corporate interests to lobby hard at an EU level and if they had their way, it could mean that oil and gas products could be categories as ‘green’ for investors in some situations. Gas has been seen in the past as a transitional energy, but to meet ambitious targets, the mechanisms to achieve this must be equally as ambitious. Ultimately we need to follow the science and ensure that all our economic activity is in line with rigid and specific sustainable labels.

“The Sustainable Finance measures are about providing clarity on what is a green investment. However, what we really need is a universal carbon labelling measure that is easily accessible and understandable by corporates, the markets and ordinary people alike.

“People need to be able to see beyond the marketing and spin of greenwashing. I’m concerned that these EU proposals are focused more on a protection blanket for big companies to greenwash within a certain framework, rather than actually target genuine and impactful climate action which is what we really need.

“The EU public that should first be equipped with knowledge to make easier, more honest choices. We need to empower people who are trying to make a difference in their local community. We should be making it easier for people to take small steps to reduce their impact on the environment. We need to give consistent information about the carbon impact of a product that is not up for debate or wiggle room. I introduced a Bill last month which would enable the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) to outline clear and concise carbon labelling regulations for all products, putting standardised information on the shelves, stripping away any greenwashing through marketing and advertising.

“Research suggests that nutritional labelling reduced consumers’ intake of calories by almost 7% – there is a clear opportunity to help people to do the same with their carbon footprint. We are hounded by buzzwords and slogans, and flag flying by corporates on their green credentials that we don’t have the time or information to fully understand. It would be great to see the Irish Government propose these measures at an EU level.

“No one person or organisation will solve climate change, it’s all about the incremental changes we can make on a daily basis. As we look to build a post-pandemic Ireland and Europe, we must put climate action at the heart of every step we take in rebuilding communities, society and the economy. In achieving an equal Ireland, where we bridge the gap and end inequality, where we have decent jobs and homes in bustling communities, climate cooling measures should be the foundation of every economic decision we make.”

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