How some powerful corporations are standing in the way of sustainable development

Publication - 12 June, 2012
Today, greenwash is alive and well, as you will no doubt see at the Rio+20 conference. The Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) coalition, for example, will be there again, and we invite you to compare their rhetoric to what was said 10 years ago in Johannesburg and 20 years ago in Rio.

This report is a sequel to the Greenpeace Book on Greenwash that was published a
few days before the 1992 Earth Summit. That report documented the special relationship
and undue influence that big business had on the Rio process. It introduced the concept of
greenwash to a global audience, and provided case studies of companies that were acting
– but not behaving – green. The case studies contrasted the rhetoric of PR with the reality of behaviour. We found that the corporations that depicted inspiring images of pristine waters were polluting those waters. The companies that spoke in reverent tones of their respect for the forests were cutting them down. The firms that had adopted and coopted environmental imagery and language were abusing the Earth. And the groupings of elite environmental business leaders were banding together to promote voluntary corporate responsibility while resisting all attempts to hold them responsible for their actions.

Through a few case studies, taken mostly from our on-the-ground campaigning work against environmental destruction, this report gives you a taste of the kind of challenges implementation of the Rio agenda is facing today, despite the growing number of glossy corporate social responsibility reports.

Download Greenwash +20