Greenwashderives from the term whitewash and indicates that organisations using greenwash are trying to cover up environmentally and/or socially damaging activities, sometimes just with rhetoric, sometimes with minor or superficial environmental reforms.
Industries with fossil-fuel intensive products, including automobile, oil and coal companies, use greenwash to make it seem that they care about global warming and are doing something about it. This can be called climatewash.
Forms of Climate Greenwash
Forms of climatewash include:
using green images and rhetoric to indicate commitment to greenhouse gas reductions whilst continuing to pollute the environment and emit high levels of greenhouse gases
publicly committing to greenhouse gas reducing actions whilst opposing legislation to reduce greenhouse gases behind the scenes
publicly committing to greenhouse gas reducing actions whilst retaining membership of industry associations or funding front groups that oppose legislation to reduce greenhouse gases.
publicising greenhouse gas reductions in operations (manufacturing/production) whilst the product (eg oil, coal, automobiles) continues to be a heavy source of greenhouse gas emissions
inflating the significance of climate friendly investments (eg solar energy) whilst the vast majority of investment goes into polluting products (eg oil and coal)
selling reduced emission products to a niche market (eg hybrid vehicles) and using them to establish your green credentials whilst continuing to sell far more heavy emitting products (eg SUVs - see advertisements below)
promising greenhouse gas reductions or more climate friendly products and not fulfilling those promises
promoting solutions that are unlikely but that allow emission to continue in the meantime (eg Clean Coal)
pretending to support renewable energy by arguing that diversity of energy sources are necessary into the future, including coal and oil
Advertisement for General Motors products shows that their commitment to the environment doesn't extend beyond sales figures.