It has been a little over two weeks since the COP26 conference in Glasgow. The more I read, I am still grappling with what actually transpired. Numerous financial alliances were formed to champion carbon-neutral initiatives. Will the planned net-zero transition come to fruition or are we going to witness greenwashing?
I am encouraged by one of the positive outcomes of the COP26 conference, the global commitment to a “Race to Zero” movement. Three years ago, only five businesses globally utilized science-based information to clearly outlined their sustainability agenda. At the conclusion of COP26, more than 5000 businesses and 1000 plus municipalities committed to joining the “Race to Zero” for a zero-carbon recovery that prevents climate catastrophes, creates extensive jobs and unlocks wide-ranging, sustainable growth.
Bottomline, human activities are connected to greenhouse emissions. Last month I posted the Advertising Paradox, advocating how people need to be more selective making their lifestyle choices to help mitigate climate change. Fortunately, numerous data points indicate people are concerned about climate change, triggering businesses and policymakers to implement more sustainable, equitable environmental practices. Unfortunately, greenwashing, a form of deceptive marketing spin used to persuade consumers an organization’s products/services, strategic objectives and policies are environmentally friendly (a.k.a. unsubstantiated blah, blah), has materialized.
A classic example of greenwashing was the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal. In the wake of the COP26 conference, I am going to question the validity of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) climate change announcement at their year-end finals in Turin, Italy which happened to coincide timing wise with the COP26. They plan to align with the UNSCA (the UN Sports Climate Action), thus set ambitious sustainability targets for men’s professional tennis. How? They published a 16-page document online detailing their plans (e.g., track the tour’s resource consumption, reduce staff travel, implement sustainability initiatives at their tournaments, etc.). Total greenwashing! For the record their tournaments (60+) are played on six continents (30+ countries). In addition to conducting a carbon footprint audit associated with the travel of the players, what about all the fans? Are all their lodgings eco-friendly?What about the carbon footprint of the supply chain for all the tennis merchandise/apparel sold to ATP fans? What about the luxurious lifestyles carbon footprints of the top players – private jets, numerous homes, cars, etc., etc., etc.
The “Race to Zero” movement is a positive climate change initiative. I am confident one byproduct is it will advance global sustainability transparency. Hopefully authentic, relevant content versus greenwashing.