Sustainability Commitments: Being Accountable and How to Avoid Greenwashing
December 16, 2022
What is greenwashing?
Companies across all sectors and sizes are making commitments to reduce their environmental impact to support the transition towards a low-carbon economy. These commitments address key climate change areas such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy efficiency, waste reduction and diversion, biodiversity, and water conservation. However, how can organizations ‘walk the walk’ and take actionable steps towards these commitments and avoid what we’re commonly seeing as ‘greenwashing’?
Greenwashing is the representation of false ideas or providing misleading information about a product, company, service, reporting, and/or statements. It is typically referred to in the context of a product or company marketing themselves as eco-friendly to deceive consumers into thinking that it is sustainable.
How can you avoid greenwashing?
You can’t reduce what you don’t measure. This is especially true when it comes to your organization’s emissions. Measuring and tracking scopes 1, 2 and 3 sources of GHGs such as heating and cooling, energy consumption, business travel, employee commuting, product shipping, and paper usage (to name a few) will give you an understanding of where and what to commit to.
From there, make an action plan to identify feasible short and long term projects that will reduce your impact. Being transparent about your reduction targets will help keep you accountable and also engage your stakeholders with your sustainability journey!
Green Economy London supports businesses to track and reduce GHG emissions by collecting and analyzing consumption data to give you a breakdown of emissions sources year after year, establishing baseline data and then setting reduction targets and monitoring progress. As well as identifying funding to implement these projects. We want your business to achieve sustainability targets and reduce emissions just as much as you do, so we encourage, celebrate and recognize progress and successes.
The GHG Protocol:
Green Economy London follows guidance from the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard by the World Business Institute when creating GHG inventory reports as it represents the best practice of reporting. As stated in the Standard, corporate GHG inventories can:
- Manage GHG risks and identifying reduction opportunities;
- Public reporting and participation in voluntary GHG programs;
- Participating in mandatory reporting programs;
- Participating in GHG markets;
- Recognition for early voluntary action.
Following a standard like the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard can ensure greenwashing does not happen during the reporting of emissions as it is based on set principles. The principles are the following:
- Relevance: report appropriately reflects the emissions of the company and serves both internal and external stakeholders.
- Completeness: reports all emissions sources and activities in the select boundary and disclosure of exclusions.
- Consistency: Using the same methodologies allows for meaningful comparisons of data over time and documenting any changes to the methods
- Transparency: Disclosing any relevant assumptions to the accounting and calculation methods and data sources.
- Accuracy: Quantification of the emissions is systematic and not above or under actual emissions and users can make decisions with assurance of integrity of the reported information.
Additional reading for avoiding greenwashing in your net-zero targets:
The United Nations’ High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities presented their paper titled ‘Integrity Matters: Net Zero Commitments by Businesses, Financial Institutions, Cities and Regions’ in November 2022.
The expert group states there should be zero tolerance for greenwashing where the public is being misled to believe an entity is doing more to protect the environment than it actually is and setting weak net-zero pledges. It is made clear throughout that long-term and short-term science-based targets that have immediate emissions reductions are required. It explains that in order to prevent greenwashing on climate accounting, organizations and businesses need to report their progress on their targets so that it can be verified and compared.
Join the network of businesses that are driving the transition to a low-carbon economy and reach out email@example.com to learn more about how we can help your business measure and report on your targets, and achieve sustainability goals.
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