Offficial definition - Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound.

Greenwashing involves making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do. Put simply – greenwashing is when a company uses advertising and public messaging to appear to be greener than it really is. It is often a technique used by certain companies to distract consumers from the fact that the company’s business model and operations are actually environmentally damaging and destructive.

Greenwashing is certainly not a new notion; however it is gaining a lot of press and with companies such as the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) and Competitions & Markets Authority (CMA) clearly ramping up their investigation and enforcements against companies found guilty of the activity, consumers will not be so easily deceived with green taglines and packaging – instead they will want to see actual green credentials, in the form of published Carbon Reduction Plan and validated/certified carbon footprint assessments.

  • False or misleading labelling
  • Including use of Eco-Friendly or Sustainable in product descriptions/taglines
  • Recent companies accused of Greenwashing, include Coca Cola & McDonalds

According to the Nielsen Global Sustainability Report, “73% of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment

Following COP27, it was agreed that too many Net-Zero pledges are little more than empty slogans and hype - there must be a red line drawn around Greenwashing. We are at a critical moment for humanity. The window to limit dangerous global warming and ensure a sustainable future is quickly closing. This is the stark but unequivocal finding of recent climate change reports. Ten Recommendations have now been made, starting with Net-Zero pledges. The pledge should contain interim targets (including targets for 2025, 2030 and 2035) and plans to reach Net-Zero in line with IPCC or IEA net zero greenhouse gas emissions modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot, and with global emissions declining by at least 50% by 2030, reaching Net-Zero by 2050 or sooner, Net-Zero must be sustained thereafter. Recommendations include:

  • Setting Net-Zero Targets
  • Using Voluntary Credits
  • Creating a Transition Plan
  • Phasing out of Fossil Fuels and Scaling Up Renewable Energy
  • Aligning Lobbying and Advocacy
  • People and Nature in the Just Transition
  • Increasing Transparency and Accountability
  • Investing in Just Transitions
  • Accelerating the Road to Regulation
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