Development of the methodological concept for the Lower Saxony Climate Label started

One focus of corsus is sustainable food systems, product labelling and the calculation of the environmental impact of food. On behalf of the University of Göttingen, corsus is now developing the methodological concept for the label as part of the project “EEKlim – Development and testing of a climate label in Lower Saxony”.
The project follows on from previous corsus projects. For the Federal Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection, corsus and its project partners investigated the question of what successful climate or environmental labelling for food could look like. In 2021/22, a comprehensive study on the environmental impact of the German diet was conducted for WWF, which for the first time also estimated the biodiversity footprint of the diet in Germany.
In EEKlim, the aim is now to develop a proposal on what the methodological basis for a climate label should look like and what rules need to be observed for the provision of data and the calculation of environmental impacts.
One of the challenges so far for a climate or environmental label for food is the availability of comparable, meaningful data on the environmental impacts of products. What is needed is information on the product life cycle – from cultivation (of ingredients) to processing, packaging and retail. Since this information is not currently available for every product, generic LCA databases are used that contain average information on the various products that is as representative as possible.
The methodological concept must ensure that the label is directionally sound based on the current state of knowledge. Therefore, the question must also be answered whether this can be done on the basis of climate impacts alone or whether other environmental impacts must also be taken into account and how this can be done:. Is it necessary to include other environmental impacts of food besides climate impacts? What are they? How could they be included? How are different environmental impacts weighted? Should the result be presented as one score or are several “sub-scores” more appropriate? How can an incentive be created for manufacturing companies to collect specific data on their products?
corsus is working on these and other questions on behalf of the University of Göttingen. The aim is to develop and test a comprehensive methodological concept for the label.

In the context of one of several advisory board meetings that take place in the project, corsus presented the first results on the data basis in Göttingen at the end of March. For this purpose, the most important food databases were counted according to a uniform product scheme in order to identify data gaps. In addition, empirical results on the comprehensible design of labels were discussed and stakeholder perspectives on the role of labelling were presented. The meeting was attended by researchers as well as representatives of ministries and public institutes. In addition, the food industry, sector associations, retailers, consumer centres and the German Nutrition Society (DGE) were represented. The combined expertise and the diverse, practical perspectives of the stakeholders are very valuable and an absolute prerequisite for a practical label.

An important aspect of the discussion was how the project can respond as effectively as possible to European processes on the topic of labelling (especially the Farm to Fork Strategy and the planned regulation of so-called green claims). If the European perspective is consistently taken into account, synergies can be created and it can be ensured that the results of the project have a positive impact beyond the national context.

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