From no action to ill action

Stuart Archibald
By Stuart Archibald | 17 March 2023
Stuart Archibald

Recent press concerning the ACCC report on greenwashing has found many businesses making unwarranted environmental claims.

ASIC has filed its first legal action concerning a company’s sustainability claims and Greenpeace is ramping up the pressure.

When I was a kid greenwashing referred to OMO addressing my laundry stains not a company mis-leading consumers through erroneous environmental messages. It got me thinking. What’s going wrong?

Twenty years ago I worked on the communications launch of The Climate Group (TCG) with former British prime minister Tony Blair and a bunch of very bright people who understood the science behind climate change.

TCG was born to collaborate with business to tackle the biggest brief of all and help companies transition to greener technologies.

It was said that TCG existed to guide business on doing it the right way and if they got out of line Greenpeace was there to step in.

After a successful launch I was invited to be a Trustee. Certainly not for my scientific brain but to advise on communication. Pressing the benefits of membership was front and centre as well as the opportunities for brand and customers. It was early days and at times I felt the rejection was similar to Netflix presenting to Blockbuster. A resonating theme was CEO’s reticence to talk about the climate. Let’s get the backyard sorted before sending out the invitations.

Fast forward I find myself yelling at the radio like my dad used to with the cricket. You can’t say that. You can’t do that. I can’t believe they have got away with it. Well, they’re not. However, how do we correct the balance for the good of customers and the planet? 

The climate brief isn’t easy. Difficult to get right because there are so many variables from manufacturing to supply and how it affects the environment. It can’t be answered by one department.

My advice is to embrace the climate scientists and NGO’s on the journey as they are best placed to interrogate the brief and advise. It’s heartening to hear the climate being talked about. It just needs to be for the right reasons.

Stuart Archibald is an ex -Trustee of The Climate Group. Partner, Archibald Williams.







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