The European Parliament and EU member states reached a deal late on Tuesday to strengthen air quality standards across the 27-nation European Union, they said in a statement.

The new rules set out air quality standards for 2030 in the form of pollutant limits and target values that are closer to the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The European Environment Agency said in November that pollution caused by fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which affects people with heart diseases in particular, led to 253,000 deaths in the EU in 2021. Pollution from nitrogen dioxide (NO2), most harmful to people with diabetes, resulted in 52,000 deaths and short-term ozone (O3) exposure led to 22,000 deaths.

Under the Tuesday’s provisional agreement, annual limits for PM2.5 and NO2 would be reduced from 25 µg/m³ to 10 µg/m³ and from 40 µg/m³ to 20 µg/m³ respectively.

The agreement provides member states with the possibility to request, by Jan. 31, 2029, and for specific reasons and under strict conditions, a postponement of the deadline for attaining the air quality limit values.

The deal has to be formally confirmed by the European Parliament and Council and then it will go through the adoption procedure.

Source: Reuters (Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Arla Foods, recognized as one of Denmark’s largest food producers and a global leader in the industry, aims to bring its transformative initiatives to the forefront of the international stage at COP28 in Dubai.

Emphasizing their main highlights on the COP28, Mr. Kim Villadsen, Senior Vice President and Head of MENA, said, “At Arla, we continuously try to accelerate our sustainability actions and engagements, and for that, we were present at COP27 blue zone and will also be present in COP28 blue zone within the Danish Pavilion. Our main focus areas at COP 28 will revolve around scope three emission reductions in collaboration with key customers, methane emissions, and how the industry is coming together on this, and finally, regenerative farming practices.”

Also, he shed light on Arla’s commendable sustainability initiatives and its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. 

“We are working across our entire operation to reduce our carbon footprint, and we have ambitious targets in place that are approved by The Science Based Targets Initiative and in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. In our scope 1 and 2, we plan to reduce emissions by 63 % by 2030 (compared to the 2015 baseline). For example, by using renewable energy at sites and offices and switching to fossil-free alternatives in our logistics. In scope 3, which includes on-farm emissions, the target is a 30 % reduction in emissions per kilo of milk by 2030 (also compared to the 2015 baseline). Most recently, we have implemented a point-based model by rewarding farmers who engage the most in sustainable actions on farms and motivating them not just to continue but to accelerate their efforts in creating a better future for the dairy industry.  Arla Foods aims to be carbon net zero by 2050.” Mr. Villadsen stated.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Arla Foods manufactures 70% of its products within GCC markets, reflecting a strong commitment to localized production. Mr. Villadsen explained, “With the presence of our two Dairy manufacturing sites in Bahrain and Saudi, we are proud to have 70 % of the products we sell in MENA being produced within the GCC markets. MENA as a region stands for approximately 7 % of total Arla group revenue in 2022.”

He added, “In 2022, Arla’s total group revenue was 13.8 billion euros. The Danish market accounted for approximately 8.8 % of that.” As a global leader, Arla Foods is not only contributing to Denmark’s economy but also spearheading sustainability efforts that resonate on a global scale.

As for future expansion, Mr. Kim Villadsen said, “We are continuously monitoring the possibilities and have big growth ambitions for the MENA region. It started with the establishment of our two dairy sites in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, where we are always looking into production line expansion, followed by our recent acquisition of the Kraft cheese portfolio in MENA, which is another good example.”

Arla Foods’ relentless efforts towards sustainability are driven by a dedication to creating a better future for all. The company’s goal to be carbon net zero by 2050 resonates with its commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability on a global scale.

European Union lawmakers on Thursday approved new standards for companies issuing “green” bonds to help investors pick sustainable companies and avoid greenwashing or misleading climate-friendly claims.

The European Parliament voted in favour of the new voluntary standard for the use of a “European Green Bond” label, calling it the first of its kind in the world.

Europe is the world’s biggest issuer of green bonds, accounting for more than half of global volume in 2021, though issuance is still only 3% to 3.5% of the overall bond market.

“It will also give the company issuing the bond more certainty that their bond will be suitable to investors who want to add green bonds to their portfolio,” parliament’s economic affairs committee said in a statement.

“This will increase interest for this kind of financial product and support the EU’s transition to climate neutrality.”

Companies who want to label their bonds as “green” in the EU would have to disclose information about how the bond’s proceeds would be used.

At least 85% of funds raised would have to be allocated to activities in line with the EU’s “taxonomy” of sustainable activities.

Firms would also have to show how these investments feed into their plans to transition to a net zero carbon emissions economy.

The standards set up a registration system and supervisory framework for external reviewers of European green bonds.

EU states, which have a joint say on the standards, gave the nod earlier this year.

Source: Reuters (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

The European Union has reached a provisional deal to raise the share of renewables in its final energy consumption to 42.5% by 2030, under the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

The deal, reached on March 30, 2023, brings the EU one step closer to completing the ‘Fit for 55’ legislation to deliver the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU objectives.

The agreement raises the EU’s binding renewable target for 2030 to a minimum of 42.5%, up from the current 32% target and almost doubling the existing share of renewable energy in the EU. Negotiators also agreed that the EU would aim to reach 45% of renewables by 2030.

A massive scaling-up and speeding-up of renewable energy across power generation, industry, buildings and transport will reduce energy prices over time and decrease the EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, according to the European Commission.

Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, said: “Renewable energy will power Europe’s future, and contribute to our energy sovereignty by reducing fossil fuel imports.”

“Homegrown renewables are also among the cheapest energy sources on the market, so more renewables mean cheaper and cleaner energy sources for our citizens and business. I welcome this agreement, which brings the EU one step closer to finishing our Fit for 55 legislation and meeting the commitments in the EU Climate Law.”

Simplified permitting procedures and innovative renewable energy technologies

Under the new law, permitting procedures will be easier and faster. Renewable energy will be recognized as an overriding public interest, while preserving a high level of environmental protection.

In areas with high renewables potential and low environmental risks, EU member states will put in place dedicated acceleration areas for renewables, with particularly short and simple permitting processes.

The provisional agreement also enhances cross-border cooperation on renewables.

The maximum period for national authorities to approve new renewable energy installations will be 12 months, if located in so-called ‘renewables go-to areas’. Outside such areas, the process should not exceed 24 months.

European parliament members also secured that member states set an indicative target for innovative renewable energy technology of at least 5% of newly installed renewable energy capacity, as well as a binding framework for cross-border energy projects.

In the transport sector, renewables deployment should lead to a 14.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, by using a greater share of advanced biofuels and a more ambitious quota for renewable fuels of non-biological origin, such as hydrogen.

The informal agreement will now have to be endorsed by both European Parliament and Council in order to come into law. The Industry, Research and Energy Committee will hold a confirmation vote in a forthcoming meeting.

Kadri Simson, European commissioner for energy, said: “I welcome the agreement, which is a milestone for our REPowerEU Plan and the European Green Deal. Renewables are key to Europe’s climate neutrality goal and will enable us to secure our long-term energy sovereignty. With this deal we are giving investors certainty and affirm the EU’s role as the global leader in renewables deployment, and frontrunner of the clean energy transition.”

Source: Amir Garanovic, Offshore Energy

The European Commission tabled new legislation on 22 March 2023 to tackle misleading environmental claims by introducing penalties against greenwashing and tighter rules for the approval of new ecolabels. 

The proposed Green Claims Directive aims to reduce greenwashing and enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on reliable information about the sustainability of the products they buy.

“We believe this proposal will bring real change and will empower all people who truly want to choose products based on their reduced impact on our planet,” said Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, who presented the proposal. 

Offending companies will be subject to penalties ranging from fines to confiscation of revenues, and temporary exclusion from public procurement processes and public funding. 

Penalties will be enforced by national authorities, which have to regularly control green claims, publicly disclose their findings, and fine companies who mislead consumers.

The move was applauded by The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), which praised the Commission for “raising their game to fight greenwashing” and “putting an end to the wild west of unsubstantiated green claims.”

Yet, the EU’s future green claims law will only be as good as its enforcement, BEUC warned, saying national authorities “will have to heavily fine companies to clean up the market from misleading green claims and labels once and for all.”

40% of green claims ‘completely unsubstantiated’

A Commission study published in 2020 found that 40% of green claims made by companies were “completely unsubstantiated”, with 53.3% of them making environmental claims that are “vague, misleading or unfounded”.

In almost half of the cases, these claims were false or deceptive, according to another study assessing 344 sustainability claims made online. Additionally, in 57.5% of cases, the trader did not provide enough information to assess the claim’s accuracy. 

“When consumers see those claims, it’s extremely difficult to separate truth from fiction,” Sinkevičius said. 

“Many of you have probably seen the T-shirts made out of plastic bottles, which is great. Unfortunately, very often only 1% or even less of the material is made from recycled bottles. More than half of the claims we see in the European market are weak, misleading, or even based on nothing at all,” he added. 

To address this, the proposal seeks to ensure that environmental claims are validated with “credible and proportionate substantiation that is backed by scientific evidence, takes into account international standards and demonstrates that the claim which is being made is significant from a lifecycle perspective,” a senior Commission official explained in a press briefing on Tuesday. 

The proposal covers only explicit claims made voluntarily by businesses for consumers, which relate to the environmental impact, aspect, or performance of a product or the trader itself, and adopt a “life-cycle” approach, from raw materials to end-of-life.

“We need to make sure that companies who are doing well, who are really substantiating their claims, are given an advantage in these marketing practices and do not compete with companies who are not really solid in the claims they make,” the official said, adding that the information will have to be transparent and easily accessible to consumers through a web link or a QR code. 

Micro enterprises, companies with fewer than 10 employees or a turnover of under €2 million, will be exempt.

Stricter rules on ecolabelling

More than 200 environmental labels are currently found across the EU, with more than 450 of them active worldwide. 

To fight the proliferation of new labels and reinforce trust in existing ones, the Commission proposes tightening controls and enforcement based on certification with independent verifiers. 

New public labelling schemes will not be allowed after the directive kicks in. And new ones will be allowed only under EU law: Should a member state feel the need for a new certification, it can turn to the European Union to develop it.

For private schemes, new ones will be allowed but only if added value can be demonstrated to the national authorities in charge of approving them. 

Public and private schemes from third countries will need to be submitted for an approval procedure before being admitted to the EU market. 

Additionally, labels with aggregated scores will no longer be allowed. 

“Aggregated score means that you are piling up a number of environmental impacts together and you’re communicating this aggregated score to the consumer,” the Commission official explained. “We consider that this could be misleading because you don’t see the full picture behind this.”


ECOSYSTEX (European Community of Practice for a Sustainable Textile Ecosystem) is a joint sustainability initiative of the European Commission’s Research Executive Agency (REA), the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) and the Circular-Biobased Europe Joint Undertaking, and is facilitated by the Textile ETP.

It comprises 17 R&I EU-funded member projects focusing on textile sustainability, with a mission to accelerate collaboration in the textile sustainability and circularity field.

The community will focus its work on:

The important feature of ECOSYSTEX is the collaboration between academic and applied researchers, technology developers, textile industry experts and other stakeholders from across Europe.

“An enormous body of new knowledge and an arsenal of innovative technological solutions are resulting from collaborative research projects and programmes across Europe, but information about their results is fragmented which inhibits take-up and scale-up,” the project leaders said. “It also means that policy makers and other stakeholders may miss out on latest data and insights that could make their legislative or implementation initiatives more relevant, specific and impactful. ECOSYSTEX aims to become the central European knowledge hub and go-to resource for latest research work and technology state-of-the-art information on all matters related to textile sustainability and circularity.”

The initial idea for setting up the network came from the CISUTAC project, inspired by a similar initiative in the plastic industry: the Plastic Circularity Multiplier. After initial meetings in the autumn of 2022, ECOSYSTEX started to take shape, and 17 projects joined as founding members of the community. Membership of ECOSYSTEX is open to running European-funded projects focusing on textile sustainability and circularity, or concluded projects meeting the same criteria.

In recent years a growing number of research and innovation projects have been funded under the EU’s Research Framework Programmes in the field of textile sustainability and circularity, as a result of the European Union’s focus on the sustainable transition of the EU economy and society as part of the EU Green Deal (announced in 2019).

This was followed by the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles (published in March 2022), presenting a vision and related European policy objectives for a green and digital transition of the European textile ecosystem. The strategy focuses on key textile sustainability aspects, such as eco-design, waste and pollution prevention, safe and bio-based materials, circular material flows and responsible supply chains and new business models. Therefore, the ECOSYSTEX community was created to ensure that these EU-funded projects will be strongly complementary and benefit from synergies to maximise projects’ impact and optimise resources.

Source: Michelle Russell, Just Style

Lawmakers at the European Parliament and members of the EU Council reached a late-night deal today on the establishment of a carbon tax on imported goods, aimed at equalizing the carbon price paid by European producers with those outside the EU, and avoiding undermining the EU’s actions to reduce product’s emissions with imports from countries with less ambitious climate policies.

Under the new agreement, the new EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) will equalize the price of carbon paid for EU products operating under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) – the EU’s internal cap and trade carbon pricing mechanism – with that paid for products produced in other countries, with companies that import into the EU required to purchase CBAM certificates in order to make up the difference.

The primary purpose of the CBAM system is to avoid “carbon leakage,” a situation in which companies move production of emissions intensive goods to countries with less stringent environmental and climate policies.

A statement from the EU Parliament following the agreement said that the mechanism will also “incentivise non-EU countries to increase their climate ambition,” adding that, “only countries with the same climate ambition as the EU will be able to export to the EU without buying CBAM certificates.”

European Parliament Member Mohammed Chahim, said:

“CBAM will be a crucial pillar of European climate policies. It is one of the only mechanisms we have to incentivise our trading partners to decarbonise their manufacturing industry.”

CBAM will initially apply to specific products from carbon intensive sectors, including iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, aluminum, electricity, hydrogen, and some downstream products such as screws and bolts, as well as to some indirect emissions under certain conditions.

The mechanism will kick in beginning October 2023, and will be phased in over time, with importer obligations at first limited only to reporting of product emissions. Over time, the application of CBAM to other goods at risk of carbon leakage, such as organic chemicals and polymers, will be assessed, with the goal to include all goods covered by the EU ETS by 2030, and the possibility of including more downstream products as well.

The phasing in of CBAM will be done in parallel to the removal of free allowances that are currently in place enabling some sectors to avoid paying for carbon emissions under the EU ETS, ensuring that those sectors avoid “double protection” under the new system. According to the EU Parliament, CBAM is designed to be fully compliant with WTO rules.

The agreement is a major step towards the completion of negotiations for the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” roadmap – the EU’s proposed strategy to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels – by resolving one of its most complex issues, and the one most likely to face opposition from countries and producers outside of the EU. Negotiations on the current agreement have been ongoing since July.

The agreement requires confirmation by ambassadors of the EU member states, and by the European Parliament, and remains provisional on the timing of phasing out of the EU ETS free allowances, which is still under negotiation.

Calling CBAM “a key part of our climate action,” Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade of Czechia, said:

“This will ensure a balanced treatment of such imports and is designed to encourage our partners in the world to join the EU’s climate efforts.”


Solvay is taking a step forward towards its 2050 carbon neutrality target by investing at its Dombasle site to test an innovative, breakthrough, and more sustainable soda ash production process. 

Solvay’s researchers and engineers have invented a new method to produce soda ash, achieving three revolutionary improvements in the process: emitting 50 percent less CO2; reducing water, brine and limestone consumption; and completely eliminating limestone residues. This should allow Solvay plants to operate more efficiently and sustainably, while enhancing their competitiveness.

The achievement of a further breakthrough milestone in early 2022 created the opportunity for Solvay to accelerate the investments announced today.

If the industrial pilot project confirms the viability of the new production process, Solvay intends to progressively implement it across its facilities in the coming 30 years, as part of Soda Ash & Derivatives business’ journey towards carbon neutrality and elimination of limestone residues.

“I am truly excited about this breakthrough process innovation and the progress it represents towards the achievement of our Solvay One Planet goals. The investment we are making today will pave the way for Solvay to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Ilham Kadri, CEO. “Through the relentless improvement of our environmental footprint and pursuit of more innovative solutions, we are reinventing the soda ash process that was developed by Ernest Solvay himself some 160 years ago. I am proud that Solvay is perpetuating that legacy of innovation, as we lead our industry towards a more sustainable future.”

About Solvay

Solvay is a global leader in the production of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate with 11 production sites all over the world. These products serve essential applications to our everyday lives such as the production of glass and air pollution control systems, as well as applications in the healthcare industry, such as hemodialysis.

Source: press release

The Lenzing Group, world-leading provider of wood-based specialty fibres, has signed an electricity supply contract with green power producer Enery and Energie Steiermark to finance a photovoltaic plant in the Deutschlandsberg region (Styria). The electricity generated will supply the fibre and pulp plant at the Lenzing site after commissioning from the fourth quarter of 2023. The electricity supply contract is limited to 20 years.

The plant’s output will amount to 5.5 MWpeak. This corresponds to the average annual electricity demand of more than 1,700 households. Several photovoltaic systems are already being installed at the Lenzing site, including the largest ground-mounted plant in the province of Upper Austria, whose commissioning is imminent.

“In order to reduce our carbon emissions even further in line with our strategic targets, we aim in the future to rely to an even greater extent on electricity generated from renewable energies. Concepts such as these will make us less dependent on global energy markets in the medium to long term and further support our transition from a linear to a circular economy model,” comments Stephan Sielaff, Lenzing Group CEO.

In 2019, Lenzing became the first fiber manufacturer to set a target to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and to be climate neutral by 2050. This carbon reduction target has been confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative. Lenzing is also currently investing in reducing carbon emissions at other sites worldwide. Only recently, the Lenzing Group announced that its Indonesian site will also be relying on green energy in the future.

“We are very pleased to have signed one of the first long-term electricity supply contracts with a leading Austrian industrial company for our first solar park in the province of Styria. In the context of our industry partnership, we are particularly pleased to make a contribution to ensuring that Austrian industry receives competitive and sustainable green power in order to remain internationally competitive within this turbulent market environment,” note Richard König, CEO of Enery, and Lukas Nemec, COO of Enery.

For Christian Purrer and Martin Graf, members of the Management Board of Energie Steiermark, the project is “the result of an efficient and trend-setting interaction between energy companies, regional policymakers and industry, with a clear win-win situation for all parties involved. It exemplifies how quickly green generation projects can be implemented when all stakeholders agree to act together and avoid excuses as to why something can’t be done.”

About the Lenzing Group
The Lenzing Group stands for ecologically responsible production of specialty fibres made from the renewable raw material wood. As an innovation leader, Lenzing is a partner of global textile and non-woven manufacturers and drives many new technological developments.
The Lenzing Group’s high-quality fibres form the basis for a variety of textile applications ranging from elegant clothing to versatile denims and high-performance sports clothing. Due to their consistent high quality, their biodegradability and compostability Lenzing fibres are also highly suitable for hygiene products and agricultural applications.
Together with its customers and partners, Lenzing develops innovative products along the value chain, creating added value for consumers. The Lenzing Group strives for the efficient utilisation and processing of all raw materials and offers solutions to help redirect the textile sector towards a closed-loop economy.
In order to reduce the speed of global warming and to accomplish the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement and the “Green Deal” of the EU Commission, Lenzing has a clear vision: namely to make a zero-carbon future come true.

Source: press release

The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted this week for a strong Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which would require companies to commit to science-based sustainability targets and tangible plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These elements significantly improve on the Commission’s proposal for this directive, which is designed to make it mandatory for businesses to report their impact on people and the planet while giving investors and the public access to comparable, reliable and easily accessible information on sustainability.

“When it comes to holding businesses accountable for harmful practices, knowledge is power. This new agreement is an essential step toward improving EU businesses’ transparency. Citizens and financial institutions will be able to track and compare reliable data on companies’ transition plans, how they impact biodiversity and ecosystems and if they make profits from fossil fuels. However, it should be applied to SMEs in high-risk sectors and without delay by Member State,” said Julia Linares Sabater, Senior Sustainable Finance Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office. 

This vote endorses the provisional agreement reached by the EU Parliament, the Commission and the Council on 21 June 2022. Compared to the Commission proposal, the final text contains more detailed reporting requirements (1). Notably, companies will now be required to publish short, medium and long-term science-based sustainability targets, submit a plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.  In addition, the Directive mandates the development and adoption of mandatory corporate sustainability reporting standards, making the EU a front runner on how to report on sustainability impacts. WWF believes that if properly implemented and transposed, this Directive will improve the quality of information companies disclose on sustainability. 

The Directive will apply to all large companies and also to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are listed on the stock exchange. However, due to an opt-out clause, those SMEs will report on sustainability issues voluntarily until 2028. Worryingly, however, the Directive leaves out all non-listed SMEs, including those in high-risk sectors, despite their severe impacts on the planet. SMEs account for 99% of EU companies, and most of them are not listed on the stock exchange. It has been proven that voluntary disclosures are not effective. This means that there is little hope for SMEs to be more transparent about their damage to the environment until 2028 (2). 

When will the Directive enter into force? The agreement reached by co-legislators proposes a delayed application in 2024 for the companies already covered by the current EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive. The other large companies will get until 2025 to comply.   

While the initial proposal was set to be integrated into national law by the end of 2023, the new deal now includes an 18-month transposition period. WWF calls on Member States to urgently implement it for all large companies. The information that will be disclosed as a result of the implementation of the Directive is crucial, both for citizens and financial institutions to make informed decisions and for the application of other EU sustainable finance legislations.

The Council adopted the agreement on Wednesday, 29 June and in the Parliament, the final vote will take place in the plenary session in autumn. 

The more detailed reaction of the Alliance for Corporate Transparency, of which WWF is a member, is available here


  1. Other important improvements include mandatory reporting of transition plans, any income generated from fossil fuels, detailed time-bound sustainability targets based on science, including emission reduction targets of scope 1, 2, and, where relevant, 3, nature-related impacts and risks for biodiversity and ecosystems in sectors particularly relying on natural resources, sustainability due diligence data, among others. The Directive mandates the development and adoption of mandatory corporate sustainability reporting standards based on the double-materiality concept. This means that companies will report on sustainability risks posed to the company and the ones that the company posed to the environment and society. The EU would be a front-runner on this matter. 
  2. The Directive has a review clause that can be triggered before 2028 and includes all SMEs.

Source: WWF