Software to Hold “Greenwashers” Accountable [Software advice]
Greenwash (verb, \ˈgrēn-wȯsh\) – to market a product or service by promoting a deceptive or misleading perception of environmental responsibility.
It’s no secret that “going green” has become the next big thing in the corporate world. Riding the wave of consumers’ growing interest in environmental sustainability, companies are launching major ad campaigns to tout their green credentials. But many of their claims are misleading or downright false. The ads are compelling, but how are we to know who’s telling the truth? “Greenwashing” is eroding the credibility of well-intentioned green businesses and turning would-be green consumers into skeptics.
It’s reminiscent of the challenge to hold corporations accountable for their financial reporting. While the recent financial crisis highlighted the shortcomings of our markets and reporting structures, the United States business community is still a leader in financial accounting, reporting and ethics. Our system is sophisticated, consisting of a combination of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), fairly rigorous government oversight, a massive industry of accounting professionals and mature accounting software technologies that keep track of every last dollar.
We must develop the same infrastructure for environmental accounting. The development of Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software is well underway, with roughly 60 vendors bringing solutions to market. ECA software enables companies to track their carbon footprint and the footprint of their suppliers as well as the impact of customer use of their products. It’s a promising innovation that can help us manage corporate America’s environmental footprint, but it’s still at the early stages of adoption. We need a number of things to happen for the ECA market to mature and develop environmental accounting to the same level as financial accounting.
So what will it take to develop the ECA software market and have the infrastructure necessary to hold greenwashers accountable? We think there are five key requirements to get us there:
* Clear government action on regulations;
* Adoption of carbon accounting principles;
* Expansion of “Scope 3” emissions accounting;
* Better business incentives to go green; and
* Demanding, informed consumers.