Green Deal2

Permissible Statements on Sustainability, Environmental Protection, and Climate Neutrality.

Environmental Statements

Sustainability, environmental protection, and climate neutrality have become buzzwords, especially since the “Fridays for Future” movement. Consumer awareness has shifted, and consumers increasingly scrutinize offerings based on these criteria. Companies must make efforts and changes to meet or exceed their customers’ expectations. This entails altered communication and advertising.

The challenge lies in the dynamic development of consumer understanding and the increasing regulatory density legislated. The requirements for the admissibility of sustainability advertising, i.e., advertising with environmental protection terms, are rising. We are happy to advise you and show you the possibilities for permissible labeling.

The European Green Deal

Europe aims, through the European Green Deal, to introduce laws that will reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The Green Deal affects all areas of life, such as transport, energy, health. In the field of commercial legal protection, it is intended to enable and facilitate environmentally conscious behavior among consumers, and companies must at least be able to substantiate environment-related statements.

EmpCo Directive and Green Claims Directive

The Empowerment Directive regulates the use of environmental claims to prevent consumers from being confronted with unclear or inadequately justified environmental statements by companies.

The Green Claims Directive is intended to apply alongside the Empowerment Directive and contains specific regulations on environmental statements and ecolabels.


  • Individual consulting on your sustainability communicationhaltigkeitskommunikation
  • Review of the admissibility of your advertising statements


“The Directive on Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition”, briefly “EmpCo”. The Council of the European Union approved the directive on February 20, 2024, and it came into force on March 26, 2024. The regulations must be implemented into German law by March 27, 2026, and will apply from September 27, 2026. The EmpCo Directive harmonizes rules for environmental advertising and aims to standardize the interpretation of national courts and authorities in the EU.

The directive specifically extends the so-called Blacklist of the UCP Directive (Directive against unfair commercial practices) to include the following actions:

  • Using a sustainability label that is not based on a certification system or not set by governmental bodies. Thus, the future use of internally developed sustainability labels will no longer be possible.
  • Using general environmental statements where the claimed recognized outstanding environmental performance to which the statement refers cannot be substantiated.
  • Making an environmental statement about the entire product or company’s business operation, while the environmental performance only pertains to a specific aspect of the product or a specific activity of the company.
  • Claiming that a product has a neutral, reduced, or positive impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions due to compensation. The use of terms like “climate-neutral”, “CO2 neutral certified”, “reduced CO2 footprint” will only be permissible in the future if the positive environmental impacts do not rely on compensations of greenhouse gases outside the supply chain but are based on those within the product’s value chain.
  • Environmental statements regarding future environmental performance (e.g., “climate neutral by 2030!”) are allowed only if the company has made clear, objective, publicly accessible, and verifiable commitments laid out in a detailed and realistic implementation plan that includes measurable and time-bound targets. The implementation plan must also be regularly reviewed by an independent expert, and the results must be publicly accessible.

On March 22, 2023, the European Commission published a “Proposal for a ‘Green Claims’ Directive”. The goal of the proposal is to curb the uncontrolled rise of environmental advertising claims that are not or scarcely substantiated. Consumers should have the opportunity to make their everyday lives more sustainable through verified statements, and companies striving to reduce their ecological footprint should gain a competitive advantage.

The directive proposal specifies transparency regulations that contain precise requirements on how CO2 consumption can be calculated and when CO2 compensation can be deducted. Recognized scientific findings must be considered.

Environmental advertising should be supplemented with information on how the consumer should use the advertised product to achieve the desired environmental impact.

The information specified in the directive must be provided on the product itself, i.e., via QR code or print.

Member States should establish independent testing bodies to verify and certify the claims made by companies.

The directive proposal affects any advertising with environmental statements. However, micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover of less than EUR 2 million are exempt from the obligations.

The regulation specifies rules regarding the admissibility of the use of the terms “organic” and “eco” for food products. It includes criteria for production techniques, animal welfare standards, and packaging.

The regulation specifies rules regarding the labelling of energy consumption for certain electronic devices, including in advertising.

When companies advertise using environmental protection terms or sustainability-related statements, they must be able to substantiate the content of these claims. If the advertising cannot be supported by sustainability-oriented activities, it is referred to as greenwashing.

When companies highlight environmental benefits while concealing the associated negative impacts, it is referred to as greenlighting.

The use of green packaging and symbols to suggest a special environmental compatibility.

An environmental goal that has been set and communicated for advertising purposes is abandoned before it is achieved.

Environmental or sustainability-related statements about products or services.

Climate-neutral does not necessarily mean “emission-free”. Climate neutrality can be achieved through savings or compensation, i.e., the reduction of CO2 elsewhere. Consumers must be informed about how climate neutrality is achieved.

Food or other products may only be called “organic” or “eco” if they comply with the rules of the EU Organic Regulation.

Eco indicates that someone or something is engaged with ecology. Labelling with “eco” must comply with the requirements of the EU Organic Regulation.

So far, companies have designed their own “sustainability seals” for advertising purposes to convey messages about the sustainability of their products. The use of such seals is prohibited in the future by the EmpCo Directive.

Karin Simon
Certified IP Lawyer

Susanne Graeser
Certified IP Lawyer

Uhlandstr. 2
80336 Munich

Phone +49 89 90 42 27 51-0
Fax +49 89 90 42 27 51-9

Karin Simon

Fachanwältin für
gewerblichen Rechtsschutz

Susanne Graeser

Fachanwältin für
gewerblichen Rechtsschutz

Uhlandstr. 2
D-80336 München

Tel. +49 89 90 42 27 51-0
Fax +49 89 90 42 27 51-9