Greeenwashing under fire

Italian regulators have fined Italy’s Eni over advertisements on that falsely claimed Eni Diesel+ was ‘green’.

As standards for what is actually environmentally sound become more defined and ‘greenwashing’ is being challenged, the Competition and Market Authority (all'Autorità Garante per la Concorrenza e il Mercato) stated that the marketing campaign deceived consumers when it claimed that the ‘green’ diesel has a positive impact on the environment, saved fuel and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It is the first ruling against ‘greenwashing’ in Italy’s history, and resulted in the highest possible fine (€5m) on the state-backed energy giant.

The decision delivers a blow to attempts by fossil fuel companies to portray biofuels as environmentally friendly. Eni Diesel + is composed of a mix of 15 per cent HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) from crude palm oil.

The ruling stated that “it’s particularly deceitful to use the denomination “green diesel’ and the qualifications ‘green’ and ‘renewable’ to refer to the HVO component of the product”, mainly because of the indirect land-use change emissions associated with palm oil use. It also argues that there's no justification or calculation that justifies the 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Veronica Aneris, manager of Transport & Environment in Italy, said: “There is no such thing as green diesel made from palm oil or any other food crop because they cause deforestation. Oil companies need to stop trying to mislead drivers and politicians with the fake claim that biodiesel protects the environment and our health. Instead they should invest in proper clean fuels such as renewable electricity. The government should push oil companies to do their fair share to decarbonise the economy.”

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