Eco-friendly lies? Study warns corporate ‘greenwashing’ could fool the world

BRISBANE, Australia — In an alarming revelation, scientists are warning the public about the perilous phenomenon of “greenwashing” by companies. The new study states it poses a significant threat to environmental preservation efforts. Greenwashing refers to the deceptive practice where organizations invest more in promoting themselves as environmentally responsible rather than actually engaging in efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

The researchers emphasize that the world is in the midst of a mass extinction event and adopting nature-positive initiatives is crucial to halt it. The nature-positive concept aims for global enhancement of nature, seeking improvements in biodiversity equivalent to achieving a “net zero” climate goal. It strives to go beyond current mitigation-focused efforts, aspiring for a world where environmental decline ceases and biodiversity thrives.

“Countries around the world are starting to back the concept – more than 90 world leaders have signed on to the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature calling for a nature-positive future by 2030,” says Professor Martine Maron, a leading researcher from the University of Queensland, in a media release. “And 11 of the global Fortune 100 companies already aspire to contribute to nature-positive.”

The Australian scholars advise the public to critically assess the environmental claims made by companies, ensuring they are founded and credible.

CO2 - Greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprint for climate change
Researchers says standards need to be established with corporations so consumers and voters can tell the greenwash from the genuine efforts for change. (© NicoElNino –

“As with the term ‘net zero’, you’ll soon start to see the businesses you buy from, and the governments you vote for, making claims that they are being, doing, or contributing to nature-positive,” says Professor E.J. Milner-Gulland, from the University of Oxford. “But to be clear, such an achievement is only possible if we fundamentally change how we run our society and economy.”

The scientists add that the establishment of clear standards and transparency is imperative to distinguish genuine environmental initiatives from misleading ones, allowing consumers and voters to discern real environmental commitments from deceptive propaganda.

Australia is currently reshaping its national environmental laws to incorporate the nature-positive concept. However, the research team believes that substantial, impactful initiatives are needed before that country can legitimately claim to be nature-positive.

“Hundreds of thousands of hectares of habitat are still being cleared in Australia every year, so we still have a long way to go before we can say we’re nature-positive,” adds Prof. Maron.

This research underscores a critical juncture in global environmental efforts, highlighting the paramount need for public vigilance and scrutiny in holding companies accountable for their environmental commitments.

The study is published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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South West News Service writer James Gamble contributed to this report.

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