Hush… from greenwashing to greenhushing – Corporate governance

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Another day, another new ESG term. “Green hushing” is the latest phrase, describing the tendency for companies to choose not to publicize their green ambitions in order to avoid scrutiny/greenwashing allegations.

This comes after a few years where the season was open to companies making increasingly bold commitments to align with net zero. As I said before, making these commitments is easy, but operationalizing them is difficult.

In recent years, companies have experienced what is known as the “green halo” effect (to use another ESG buzzword) when they publish details of their sustainability goals and green transactions. . But maybe the wind is changing. Many companies have faced climate- or greenwash-related litigation based on their public statements, and others have come under scrutiny from regulators.

In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that companies are beginning to question whether they should be saying less, rather than more, about their green credentials and net zero goals.

However, if green silence becomes widespread practice, I fear the lack of transparency will mean that:

  • the pace of decarbonization will slow (further); and

  • the slim chance of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement will diminish further.

There is a lot at stake here. I hope companies don’t adopt this “green silence” program. Rather than saying nothing, I hope companies will become more cautious/cautious about the PR output regarding sustainability, so that it can be objectively substantiated.

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