Nine in ten professionals believe greenwashing remains prevalent, survey finds

As per the survey, only 3% of respondents said that their organisation was currently net-zero.

This is according to the recent National Environmental Services Survey 2024, conducted by the Environmental Services & Solutions Expo (ESS), which surveyed nearly 1500 professionals across the environmental services industry.

In the 2023 ESS survey, approximately 25% of respondents stated a strong desire to prevent greenwashing; however, a year later, more than 40% of respondents believe that greenwashing is still “very prevalent” across industries.

According to recent research, nearly 47 new climate and greenwashing cases were filed against corporates and governments last year. Of the 140 cases reviewed between 2016 and 2023, 54 were judged in favour of the claimant.

While cases of climate litigation against corporates continue to rise, nearly half of respondents (54%) do not believe that their organisations are conducting regular sustainability audits and assessments of suppliers.

Moreover, approximately 66% of respondents believe that their organisations do not have a strict environmental criterion for suppliers in place.

Earlier this month, a survey revealed that a quarter of the general public thinks that brands never provide accurate information on their climate impact, with most of the respondents stating that they would stop buying from businesses that are deliberately greenwashing.

According to the ESS survey, only 3% of respondents said that their organisation was currently net-zero.

Concerns over carbon offsetting

Furthermore, nearly 80% of professionals across the environmental services sector expressed concerns regarding the credibility and transparency of carbon credit offsetting schemes.

While 11% of respondents agreed “strongly” that carbon offsetting is a viable strategy for achieving net-zero emissions, about 13% “strongly disagreed”.

Indeed, carbon credits have always been a contentious issue in the corporate sustainability sphere. Although efforts are ongoing to try and improve the transparency and quality of carbon credits available for purchase, nearly 60% of businesses believe that the carbon credits market is “currently too risky to invest in”.

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has been working on a rulebook of guidance for corporates wading into the VCM, in order to instigate confidence, enhance transparency and prevent greenwashing.

Policy support for net-zero

The survey findings also highlight that less than half of respondents (41%) feel that current Government policies are in support of net-zero.

Last year, only 11% of respondents believed that the Government would hit its net-zero by 2050 target, after the Government watered down its net-zero policies, citing the cost-of-living crisis as a challenge.

According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the estimated net cost of the net-zero transition is anticipated to be 0.5% to 1% of GDP per year, with the cost of inaction or a disjointed and disorderly transition being far higher.

Fears around the cost of the transition have been stoked by the Conservative Party and Reform UK ahead of general election this month. Read here edie’s latest policy manifesto matrix, outlining all the key commitments that the political parties have pledged regarding the green economy.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Well, I am totally astonished; I thought everything I read was always true.
    Am I ever deceived???

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