Labelling all products with carbon footprint information could prevent greenwashing and help people make better environmental decisions, according to the Labour Party.
The party has put forward a new bill which would empower the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) to run an ‘independent, verifiable carbon labelling system’ for all products.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Labour climate spokesperson Duncan Smith the bill would prevent companies from greenwashing their products.
“We feel there are a number of things happening in the space at the moment that we are not entirely comfortable with,” he said.
“A lot of the big corporates are now starting to look at this. We don’t think that is a good model; for the big companies to be self-regulating their own carbon labelling.
“So, in order to avoid any greenwashing, we think that by empowering the NSAI to perform this function – a trusted body of the State that is answerable to the minister – that we would be able to deliver something that is trusted and something that will ultimately help people make more informed, climate-friendly decision in terms of their weekly shop or shopping for clothes.”
He said the system should take a range of factors into account including:
- The process of manufacturing the commodity
- The shipping of the commodity
- The normal use of the commodity
- The end-of-life disposal of the commodity.
“It is not an easy task but it is something that must be done in a trusted and verifiable way and something that people can easily understand,” said Deputy Smith.
“It would have to go hand-in-hand with an education process as well led by the State.”
He noted that similar systems are already in place for other goods and services.
“We have this in terms of white goods,” he said. “We have energy ratings in terms of our fridges and our dishwashers – we have baked all them in.
“We have it in terms of BER energy certs for our houses so this isn’t something that is new but it must be led by the State because if it is led by the corporates, there is too much scope for greenwashing and it is not the right model to pursue.”
The Dublin Fingal TD said the bill has been introduced as a standalone piece of legislation but noted that it could be added to the upcoming Climate Bill as an amendment.
“We think it is a positive step; we think it is something people want but ultimately it holds the corporates to account in terms of what they are watching," he said.
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