Greenwashing is dangerous.

Companies are facing increasing pressure from consumers, governments and investors to make commitments around sustainability and climate change. Greenwashing is a way for companies to appear socially responsible while continuing to operate as they wish.

A rising tide of greenwashing is distracting the public from the harm these companies are causing and damaging open public debate about climate change.

So we’re taking action. We’re using the law to stop companies misleading consumers and investors over their climate credentials.

What is greenwashing?

While greenwashing isn’t new, there’s been a huge uptick in interest among consumers recently around environmentally and socially conscious products, and consumers are much more concerned about making environmentally friendly purchasing decisions. So, companies have a real financial incentive to appear sustainable and socially conscious.

Greenwashing is where a company uses advertising and public messaging to appear more climate friendly and environmentally sustainable than it really is. It’s also a technique used by certain companies to distract consumers from the fact that their business model and activities actually do a lot of environmental harm and damage.

It can be seen in advertising, sponsorship and public messaging in the media and on social media.

66%

of consumers are happy to pay more for environmentally friendly products, according to a 2015 survey.

72%

of consumers under the age of 20 are happy to pay more for environmentally friendly products, according to the same survey.

Greenwashing: the tipping point

We asked science journalist, author and presenter on BBC Radio 4's Costing the Earth, Jheni Osman, to explore the issue of corporate greenwashing – why it happens, to what extent, and how companies are being forced to make big decisions about the future of 'green' marketing.