Supermarket chain Rewe stops advertising own-brand products as “climate neutral”
The German supermarket chain Rewe has said that it will stop using a contentious “climate neutral” claim for its own-brand products, reports business weekly WirtschaftsWoche. A spokesperson told the newspaper that remaining stock will still be sold off, but the aim is “to do without [the claim] altogether.” Rewe used carbon offsetting to enable it to say its products are “climate neutral”. Until recently, Rewe had purchased compensation certificates on a grand scale, writes WirtschaftsWoche.From January to August 2022, Rewe had a total of 21.7 million kilograms of CO2 offset - in order to make the products of its own brand "Rewe Bio + vegan" climate neutral.
Thanks to more and more businesses publicly making “carbon neutrality” or “net-zero” commitments, the voluntary market for carbon emission offsets is booming, both globally and in Germany. Critics, however, consider the concept that allows individuals and businesses to buy into projects that help reduce emissions in the global south, such as wind turbines or efficient cookstoves, to be mere greenwashing.
The number of companies claiming climate neutrality for themselves and their products is growing rapidly, but so is scepticism about these claims. NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) recently launched legal action against Nivea-maker Beiersdorf, oil majors BP, Shell and TotalEnergies, and other companies for allegedly “misleading” consumers regarding their climate neutral products. The companies’ claims constitute “fake climate protection” that conceals continued emissions and uses incomprehensible compensation mechanisms, DUH had said.