Yesterday, French owned energy company EDF launched Green Britain Day, supported by a number of prominent British athletes and HRH Prince of Wales. Green Britain Day is a day that they say in their TV adverts is a day for people to join together to do something do reduce our carbon footprints and join the fight against climate change. But not everybody has been convinced that EDF’s motives are pure.
Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, renewable energy pioneers and serious investors in wind power generation, has accused EDF of greenwashing. In an article published in the Guardian online yesterday he said,
“The campaign itself has laudable aims, fighting climate change and making Britain a greener place. Who could argue with that? But look for any substance and you won’t find it. It’s all recycled and gimmicky. And it’s a distraction. Green Britain is a serious goal, it requires a vision underpinned by real policies, a suite of joined up actions that we can all get behind – with meaningful outcomes. It’s a mission not a PR opportunity.”
There is concern that actions of greenwash can seriously undermine the real cause by distracting the public’s attention from the companies and products out there that are genuinely acting in the interest of reducing carbon emissions and the likelihood of runaway climate change. This can become a danger, especially with environmental issues being at the forefront of people’s minds as daily news and results from scientific investigations provide more evidence that climate change is happening. Companies jump on the band wagon and use being green as another PR tool to try and win over customers who want to do their bit to reduce their environmental impact.
Rival energy companies Npower and British Gas have also pointed their finger at the scheme, which EDF says on its ‘Team Green Britain’ website will provide you with all the information and advice you need in order to live a greener lifestyle, with British Gas stating they look for ways to be greener every day. Npower will be doing their bit by introducing their ‘Climate Cops’ scheme to engage children in educational programmes to promote energy efficiency and taking action against climate change from a young age.
When you consider the amount of carbon emissions from coal, oil and gas that are generated by the power stations run by the major energy companies, it can become easy to see why accusations of greenwashing are being made. Many people are therefore calling on the government to step in and solve problems such as this with stricter regulation of carbon emissions and taking action to stop greenwash being used in such ways.