15 Jan 2024, 13:27
Sören Amelang

German citizens’ assembly calls for mandatory food label indicating climate impact

Clean Energy Wire

A citizens’ assembly on improving nutrition in Germany has called for a mandatory government food label that includes information on the product’s climate impact, as well as its impact on animal welfare and health. The climate label “should be based exclusively on the greenhouse gas emission criterion,” according to the assembly’s recommendations for the country’s parliament. “The label should have a simple design and be accompanied by an information campaign so that it is accepted by consumers. It should be possible to recognise in three seconds whether the food is safe,” the recommendations said, adding that the label should be expanded within five years to include other environmental aspects, for example the conservation of resources and biodiversity. Nine out of ten participants agreed that consumers need a new label to facilitate conscious consumerism.

An increasing number of companies have started to display largely unregulated climate labels on their products, including widespread claims that they are "climate neutral." But most of these claims rely on questionable commitments to compensate continued emissions, inviting accusations that this trend is nothing but greenwashing. Regulators have started to ban such labels, which have been shown to confuse consumers.

Germany has held eight citizens’ assemblies at the federal level since 2019, including one exclusively dedicated to climate policies. Participants are randomly selected from the population, but the assemblies’ composition is designed to reflect the population as much as possible. The assemblies’ task is to jointly propose solutions to political problems. The assemblies’ recommendations are formally non-binding, but they are submitted to parliament for consultation.

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