British MPs call for every product to carry carbon labels

Posted: March 24, 2009 in society
Tags: ,

Here’s something for our pollies to consider; after, all they always like copying what the big brothers in the UK and US are doing. And this would actually be something helpful for a change, much more than aiming at replicating pre police state methods.

James Murray, BusinessGreen, 23 Mar 2009

Environmental Audit Committee Report urges government to legislate if necessary to deliver universal environmental labelling scheme.

carbon-trustEverything companies buy and sell could soon carry green labels detailing their products’ environmental impact, if proposals to be put forward today by an influential committee of MPs are adopted.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) of MPs will release a report calling on the government to deliver sector-based universal environmental labelling similar to emerging standards for food labels and a huge expansion of carbon labelling.

The report argues that a standardised approach to carbon labelling would help tackle “greenwash” and make it easier for consumers to select sustainable products. It concludes that the government “should be prepared to legislate” to deliver such labels if necessary.

Colin Challen MP, chairman of the Environmental Information Sub-Committee, said that universal labelling backed by government-approved standards would give consumers greater confidence that the green products they buy deliver tangible environmental benefits.

“The proliferation of labels means we urgently need a universal scheme to help consumers discriminate between products on the basis of environmental factors,” he said, adding that such a scheme would also encourage businesses to develop greener products.

The report also calls for an expansion of carbon labelling schemes that provide customers with information on the embedded carbon found in a given product.

The practice is currently being tested by the Carbon Trust and a number of high-profile brands, including Tesco, Boots, Walkers and Innocent Smoothies. But the EAC said that the government should be aiming for nothing less than carbon labels on all products.

“Given the challenge we face in decarbonising the economy, the Committee believes carbon labelling may prove the single most important environmental measure in promoting behavioural change at home, at work and in business,” said Challen. “If government initiatives, such as the Act on CO2 campaign, are to help individuals cut their carbon footprint, labels dealing with ’embedded’ carbon are vital.”

He added that universal adoption of carbon labels would also provide firms with a “market signal” to cut the carbon intensity of their products and ” trigger a transformation in business activities all the way down the supply chain of a particular product”.

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