InternationalClimatewash - Greenwash 2.0. Simple, cheap and no real change needed - great for big business!From: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/climatewash-greenwash-270707
So it's official. Climate change is in. Global warming is hip. Pop stars are urging action. It seems not a day passes without another big business making a green pronouncement. The scale of the problem is clear but there are still very few big companies walking their climate talk.
Live Earth was great for raising awareness on climate change and promoting ways everyone can help. To see global megastars urging action on climate change to an audience of billions warms the heart of many a hardened Greenpeace climate campaigner. Today is certainly light years away from when we first started campaigning nearly 20 years ago on what was then a little known issue.
Awareness raised, but where's the corporate action?
This year has seen the science debate (artificially prolonged by dirty energy funded front groups) settled. And Live Earth helped raise awareness of the problem in many countries to an unprecedented level. But even a quick scan of the Live Earth sponsors reveals many companies who, while spending millions on appearing to be concerned about climate change, are profiting from climate changing business as usual.
Just down the road from our international office in Amsterdam is a major Dutch energy company called Nuon, which sponsored the Dutch Live Earth event. But what Nuon isn't so keen to highlight is that it's one of the companies pushing ahead with the building of five new coal power plants in the Netherlands.Â If built these will guarantee the Dutch government's 30 percent CO2 reduction by 2020 target will not be met.Â Dirty, polluting business as usual.
As coal power stations are one of the biggest single causes of climate change no new ones should be being built. That's the sort of serious action required. Yet most big power companies are trying to forge ahead with plans for massive new coal plants in Europe, Asia and the Americas. The very same companies you pay your energy bill to are telling you they care, but spending that money like they never knew coal was a bad idea. Many big oil companies (now marketing themselves as 'energy' companies) like BP, Shell and even Exxon are throwing the odd million or several at websites and ad campaigns to say they are looking for solutions to climate change. But in fact they are spending billions finding and extracting more oil. Exxon even still funds the climate skeptic front groups that exist to attempt to muddy the water and stall action on climate change.
General Motors (owner of Chevy) and DaimlerChrysler (owner of the Smart car brand) were two massive car makers hoping for some positive association with Live Earth. However, what you won't see on DaimlerChrysler's website is the fact that their (and other big German car makers) lobbying was crucial in preventing the European Union from imposing tough new efficiency regulations on cars in 2006. Car manufactures had eight years to comply with previous voluntary targets (that they mostly failed miserably to meet), hence the EU proposal for new strict legally binding rules. Yet, European car manufactures (supported by US car firms, like General Motors) lobbied successfully that there should be significantly weaker efficiency regulations, as car companies should be free to sell lots of big, inefficient and polluting cars. (Report on car industry EU lobbying). That's the real sign of how companies like DaimlerChrysler have failed to change in response to the climate challenge.
The lights are on, but there's no climate champion home
One big area where a simple and significant win for the climate can be made is lighting. Old style incandescent bulbs are so inefficient that by just switching from old to new efficient lighting technology in the EU we could close down 25 medium sized power plants, and possibly save Europe 3-5 billion euros. Right now major lighting manufactures like Phillips, GE and Osram have mumbled about a possible incandescent phase out in maybe 10 years time. But being the makers of most of the inefficient lightbulbs on the global market it's time they were more ambitious. Why not a bold climate move now - stop making incandescent bulbs to focus solely on selling more efficient lighting. As the companies obviously need some pressure to take this step you can write to them now.
"Business as usual is no longer an option"
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
That was the UN head talking about the need for a new political agreement on climate change, but he could just have easily been addressing business leaders.
If we are to have any chance to meeting the necessary carbon emission reductions required to prevent a climate crisis there must to be major changes now. No new coal plants should be approved. Old inefficient lighting must be made a thing of the past. Gas guzzling cars belong on the scrap heap.
While we can all do our bit individually to combat climate change it's companies taking real action that can massively magnify our individual actions and be themselves ahead of the competition when government regulation on climate is enforced. To date the signs have not been promising. Examples of real action are few. Some power companies have dropped plans for a handful of coal plants in places like the US and New Zealand. A handful of retailers, like Currys in the UK, have stopped selling wasteful incandescent bulbs. But given the scale of the climate crisis facing us all it's high time big companies stopped just talking green and took action to make their business climate friendly. Anything less just results in more hot air.
- Take personal action and pressure companies to make real changes to tackle climate change by taking our 7 Steps.
- We never allow ourselves to be fed by a hand we might want to bite. Not accepting corporate donations means we rely entirely on people like you to help keep us going. Some of our corporate targets spend in a few hours what we spend in an entire year. Please help with anything you can.
Â© By Elaine Hill. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 No archiving> No resale.