Clarity on Green Claims

Why we are transitioning away from our “Climate Positive” terminology

Iris Beswick

Iris Beswick

01 Feb, 2024

Clarity on Green Claims

In recent years, terms like 'carbon neutral' and 'climate positive' were understood to mean a company was acting in a sustainable way. However, without widely-agreed definitions, these terms have become ambiguous; and this lack of standardisation makes them easily commandeered for greenwashing.

In line with this, and following guidance and legislation from the UK Green Claims Code and the EU Green Claims Directive, Earthly has now retired its Climate Positive certifications. 

Our priority is the reputation of Earthly customers and ensuring that their climate action is represented accurately. We do not believe that the evolving work our clients are doing - whether that is carbon accounting, setting Net-Zero targets or investing in nature-based solutions (NbS) - can be summed up in two or three words, or distilled into a simple certification.

What does the UK Green Claims Code say?


Green Claims Code

is a set of six key principles designed to prevent businesses from making misleading environmental claims about their products and services. It was developed for the UK market by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and was first published in 2021.

The principles are:

  • Claims must be truthful and accurate

  • Claims must be clear and unambiguous

  • Claims must not omit or hide important relevant information

  • Comparisons must be fair and meaningful

  • Claims must consider the full life cycle of the product or service

  • Claims must be substantiated

The principle of clarity and ambiguity is where we believe the Earthly certification fell short. Even if the claim of “Climate Positive” was defined and substantiated it is an oversimplification that could be interpreted in many ways.

How about the EU Green Claims Directive?

Similarly to the Green Claims Code, the Green Claims Directive (GCD) is a legislative proposal by the EU to protect consumers and companies from greenwashing. 

“Green claims are everywhere: ocean-friendly t-shirts, carbon-neutral bananas, bee-friendly juices, 100% CO2-compensated deliveries and so on. Unfortunately, way too often these claims are made with no evidence and justification whatsoever. This opens the door to greenwashing and puts companies making genuinely sustainable products at a disadvantage. Many Europeans want to contribute to a more sustainable world through their purchases. They need to be able to trust the claims made. With this proposal, we give consumers the reassurance that when something is sold as green, it actually is green.

The GCD is slightly stricter in that it prohibits the use of general and unspecified green claims (e.g., “carbon neutral”, “eco-friendly”, “sustainable”) without evidence in all cases. It also specifically bans claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment because of emissions offsetting schemes.

In the EU, the timelines are a little longer and more uncertain. The Green Claims Directive is nearing the end of the legislative process, and it is estimated that the requirements will be written into law by member states by 2026.

Recommendations from Earthly

The key, as always, is to be really transparent in your messaging.

We highly recommend that businesses stay away from Carbon Neutral or Climate Positive claims and instead state very clearly what exactly they are (and are not) doing. For example, a simple statement such as:

"We have measured our Scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions for 2023 and have targets to reduce these by X% by X year. In the meantime, we are supporting high-quality, nature-based projects through Earthly". 

As long as it is truthful and substantiated, would be compliant with the latest legislation.

Spreading the word with a badge

Although we are retiring our Climate Positive badges in their current form, we still believe that our clients should be able to shout about the amazing impact they are having by supporting our projects. 

To this end, we have created a new “Earthly” badge which businesses can use to show that they are partnering with Earthly to support high-quality nature-based projects. The badge will be date-stamped to add a level of accountability and can be linked to your Earthly dashboard or the sustainability page on your website to explain exactly what actions have been taken. 

These badges have been through many iterations with input from our customer advisory board, an anonymous consumer survey, expert sustainability consultants and many discussions with the whole team at Earthly.   

Earthly badge 2024 horizontal

Staying ahead in sustainability

Terminology around green claims is ever evolving and we aim to support our clients so they can talk about their sustainability efforts and work with Earthly confidently and without greenwashing. You can find further resources on your customer hub and please email us at

[email protected]

if you have any questions!