Greenwash (verb, \ˈgrēn-wȯsh\) – to market a product or service by promoting a deceptive or misleading perception of environmental responsibility.
At first glance, accounting seems totally unrelated to environmentalism. But a new type of accounting just might be the answer we need to ensure corporate carbon footprint transparency and stop the false marketing campaigns of greenwashers.
The U.S. is a leader in financial accounting (thanks in part to accounting software systems), but we need similar strength in environmental accounting to prevent deceptive green marketing campaigns. The recent development of Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software enables companies to track their carbon emissions and identify opportunities to reduce waste. When businesses everywhere begin tracking and reporting their carbon emissions, we’ll have a measurable way to evaluate their environmental impact. By making the process much more manageable, ECA software leaves no excuses for supposedly “green” companies to cover up their emissions. Businesses who promote eco-friendly products will be forced to live up to their claims, and it will be a lot more difficult to get away with greenwashing. In fact, greenwashing could disappear entirely when carbon accounting is widely adopted.
For ECA software and environmental accounting adoption to get rid of greenwashers and make eco-friendly products trustworthy again, we need action in five main categories:
Clear government action on regulations – like increased coverage of the EPA’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, which requires companies emitting 25,000 metric tons or more per year of greenhouse gases to report their emissions to the EPA;
Adoption of carbon accounting principles – stricter requirements for disclosure of standardized corporate emissions information to ensure that more companies measure their carbon footprints and make the information available to the public;
Expansion of Scope 3 emissions accounting – mandatory inclusion of suppliers’ emissions and other indirect sources (Scope 3) in reports to prevent under-reporting of emissions and to spread adoption of general carbon accounting more quickly among related businesses;
Better green business incentives – more tax incentives and other government initiatives could help with economic incentives to green, while using ECA software makes it easier to identify eco-friendly savings opportunities – making greenwashing unneccessary;
Demanding, informed consumers – demanding the numbers, while boycotting the greenwashers, uses consumer purchasing power to force businesses with green marketing campaigns to either prove their sincerity or end misleading marketing campaigns.
With all of these requirements fulfilled – easier said than done, of course – greenwashing could become nothing more than a brief history lesson.
To learn more about ECA software and greenwashing prevention, check out the original article by Hunter Richards: Software to Hold “Greenwashers” Accountable.