by Graham Readfearn, via DeSmogBlog
During the ad, Kermit displayed his innate talent for not blinking which, it has to be said, is due essentially to his congenital lack of eyelids.
But had Kermit blinked, he would have missed the small print at the bottom of the ad which showed that at the time, this “green” vehicle had a fuel consumption slightly worse than the US average.
But that seems to be the rule when it comes to claims of climate-friendliness made by some of the world’s biggest brands.
Check the small print, and the responsible green hue soon fades to something resembling bullsh*t-brown (or whatever color denotes hypocrisy). At least that’s the conclusion after reading Australian author and researcher Guy Pearse’s latest book. Pearse spent close to four years immersing himself in some 3000 TV commercials and viewing about 4000 print and web adverts, all of which make claims of climate friendliness (I disclose here that I had a small paid role as a fact-checker on the book).
After checking the brand’s actual contribution to climate change (or their lack of transparency) in more than 700 company reports, Pearse finds in Greenwash: Big Brands and Carbon Scams that the green revolution is being either grossly overblown or faked.
Some 24 industry sectors, a host of “eco-celebs” and most of the world’s top brands are covered in the book and very few emerge unscathed.
Among the brands examined are Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonalds, Bank of America, Barclays, Apple, Starbucks, GM, Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), Boeing, Virgin, GM, Toyota, FedEx, UPS, DHL, Tesco, Walmart, News Corp, CBS and many more. The book’s inside sleeve displays a tic-a-tape of green slogans.
Pearse, a research fellow at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, finds that brands pull a series of common tricks when they make claims that they’re cutting their emissions. For example, take Wyndham hotels, who don’t count the emissions from the 7000 franchised properties which bear their name.
Or Panasonic, which ignores the emissions from the raw materials needed to make all their electronic gadgets (a common omission). Then there’s the regular trick of having a target to cut emissions which is based on carbon intensity (such as CO2 per sq metre of floor space or per product) but ignoring the fact those savings are rubbed out many times over as companies expand.
Other companies claim concern for the climate while failing to disclose their carbon footprints. Sometimes Pearse simply reveals rank hypocrisy, such as Royal Bank of Canada buying offsets for a carbon-neutral Olympics torch relay while also financing tar sands and coal projects.
The book is sure to leave many climate conscious consumers feeling like they’ve been had (no doubt the climate would express some dismay too, if it could). But should consumers feel hopeless? Pearse told DeSmogBlog: