A recent survey conducted by South Pole, a climate consultancy and carbon offset developer, has revealed an alarming trend known as "greenhushing." Greenhushing occurs when companies intentionally downplay or keep quiet about their climate commitments, a cousin of the more well-known practice of greenwashing.
According to South Pole's findings, corporate greenwashing has always been an issue, but now even the most environmentally conscious companies are resorting to greenhushing. The survey, which consisted of 1,400 sustainability executives from around the world, showed that 70% of respondents admitted to engaging in greenhushing. These companies reported experiencing difficulties in communicating their climate targets due to stringent regulations and increased scrutiny. As a result, 58% are decreasing their communications efforts.
Interestingly, the survey revealed that the environmental services sector, including renewables and recycling, has been the most affected by greenhushing. In fact, a staggering 88% of environmental service companies admitted to decreasing their external communications—the highest percentage among all sectors surveyed, surpassing even the oil and gas industry (72%).
However, it's worth noting that while over half (55%) of oil and gas companies find communications on climate action more challenging than before, they are not resorting to greenhushing to the same extent as their environmental services counterparts.
Nadia Kähkönen, the global director of communications at South Pole, expressed concern over the findings. It is disconcerting to see that companies genuinely dedicated to advancing climate action and incorporating emission reductions into their business models are engaging in greenhushing more frequently than those doing the bare minimum.
In conclusion, the rise of greenhushing poses a significant challenge to the transparency and accountability that should accompany corporate climate commitments. As more companies succumb to this practice, it becomes crucial for stakeholders to hold them accountable and demand genuine and honest communication regarding their climate actions.
Challenging the Standards: Are Green Companies being held Accountable?
The recent debate surrounding the accountability and urgency of climate action among green companies has raised some intriguing questions. Are we applying the same level of scrutiny and demands to green companies as we do to fossil fuel companies? And if so, are we inadvertently discouraging climate action in the process?
A survey conducted on the matter has unveiled interesting findings, coinciding with a growing backlash against ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing in the United States.
Exxon Mobil, one of the largest oil companies in the U.S., has taken drastic measures in response to a potential climate resolution that might be presented at its upcoming shareholders' meeting in May. In an attempt to prevent investment firm Arjuna Capital and Amsterdam-based investor activist group Follow This from proposing a shareholder motion, Exxon Mobil has filed a federal lawsuit in Texas.
The proposed resolution calls on Exxon Mobil to not just adhere to its current plans, but to go even further by significantly accelerating its efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the medium-term.
Mark van Baal, the founder of Follow This, comments on the situation, stating, "Apparently, the board fears shareholders will vote in favor of emissions reduction targets. It seems that Exxon Mobil is afraid of its shareholders."
Natasha Lamb, co-founder and CIO of Arjuna Capital, stresses the importance of investors acknowledging the broad risks posed by climate change. She asserts, "We have a fundamental right and duty to voice concern over climate risk, its impacts on the global economy, and shareholder value."
In response to these developments, Exxon released a statement claiming that investor groups are inundating them with proposals that do not serve the interests of shareholders. They argue that they are seeking a court intervention to ensure that SEC's proxy rules are properly implemented, to curb such abuse and alleviate the resources required to address them.
This ongoing battle between environmental activists and oil giants raises important questions about the accountability and responsibility of green companies. It becomes essential to strike a balance that holds companies accountable for their emissions while fostering a climate-conscious economy.