From wildfires and heat waves to storms, torrential rain and landslides, environmental issues are top of mind for most. Individuals, investors, and even regulators are now, more than ever, holding businesses to a higher degree of accountability and demanding transparency throughout their supply chain and operations.
Likewise, this year’s UN Cop climate summit to be held in Dubai in November, has been marred by controversy. (It’s not likely to be the last.) Earlier in the year, the Cop28 president, Sultan Al Jaber, was accused of attempting to greenwash his image after it was revealed that his team edited Wikipedia pages relating to his role as the CEO of an Abu Dhabi oil company.
So why are businesses still greenwashing?
Businesses are incentivised to promote their green credentials as there’s evidence it helps improve sales, customer preference, and brand reputation. However, the common idea behind greenwashing is that it is a deliberate and deceptive attempt to profit. The general public is keen to weed out those that are greenwashing from the ones that are genuinely dedicated to and align themselves with sustainable practices.
Is poor data still a problem?
Without robust data documenting companies’ practices throughout the value chain, it’s difficult to obtain a clear picture of overall impacts and true performance to feed into a green plan. All too often, the focus of governance may rest on a few key metrics, most notably carbon emissions (and often only scope 1 and 2), while ignoring the bigger picture. Ultimately, this lulls leadership into a false sense of security and convinces them that they are ticking all the boxes, while there are still glaring material issues, environmental, social, or economic elsewhere.
Fundamentally, the only way to know if a green claim is correct is to test it objectively using robust data.
If you don’t monitor it, you can’t measure it
How do you collect data on the performance of your own vehicle fleet, never mind third-party suppliers? In other words, companies are left guessing about the impact of vehicles entering their sites or campuses or making deliveries.
While regulators have caught on to the risks of greenwashing and aim to crack down on the marketing side, so have financial institutions – leading to deeper analysis of environmental disclosures and ESG reporting.
This problem is in need of a solution as companies have been championing their Scope 3 reduction targets. In other words, their aim is to reduce pollution from the supply chain. If you can’t monitor the supply chain, you can’t measure it, and then you certainly have no way of validating or evidencing the reduction. These claims rely heavily on estimates and self-reporting of suppliers which opens the door to poor data and false claims.
Poor data => greenwashing
An investment in and dedication to sustainability targets requires an investment in the reporting and measurement tools to ensure targets are met. Greenwashing harms the sustainability agenda for everyone. You don’t need to be an expert to reduce pollution, but you do need to be able to measure it.
Organisations need a way to easily identify air and noise pollution and then reduce it. At EMSOL, we focus on giving businesses and the public sector accurate real-time pollution data. Such emissions data allows them to monitor, act, and evidence – backing up their green credentials with objective data.
The EMSOL platform provides real-time, science based environmental data that can be actioned. No averages, simply accurate detection of pollution events, their causes and no limits breached. We enable our customers to evolve from passive ‘observers’ into proactive advocates who can scientifically evidence their sustainability claims and reductions in emissions – winning bids, avoiding costly legislation breaches, evidencing progress to Net Zero and improving brand credibility.
We’ve been working with NHS Foundation Trusts as well as some amazing companies in construction, waste and retail logistics who were desperate to get their hands on scientific data so they could start having a real impact. Working with household names such as Croydon Council, Reston Waste, London Borough of Merton and Guys & St Thomas’ hospitals we are working to make a real difference in how pollution is managed and towards net zero compliance.
EMSOL is currently crowdfunding. Find out more about our campaign and how to invest here.