A good rule of thumb

by Milan on November 3, 2010

in Economics

Anything actively advertised as being ‘green’ or good for the environment is probably nothing of the sort. At best, it is less harmful than competing products (like the Toyota Prius). At worst, some of the most damaging technologies out there are hocked on the basis of green promises.

It is an especially bad sign if the advertising is (a) close to Parliament Hill, in Ottawa or (b) featured in the pages of The Economist. Both venues seem to cater to companies that know they can’t make much of a logical case in favour of their products; instead, they try to impress decision-makers with how much money they have and what kind of messages they can craft for voters.

Ads from the October 30th issue of The Economist that make ‘green’ claims:

  • General Electric jet engines (less harmful than competing products, though could increase emissions by reducing prices)
  • Nissan Leaf (less harmful than competing products)
  • Chevron (blatant greenwashing, three full page ads in a row)
  • Lincoln MKZ Hubrid (less harmful than competing products)
  • Shell natural gas (arguably less harmful than competing products)

The area around Parliament Hill is currently plastered with ads making dubious claims about the environmental benefits of biofuels, along with pure greenwashing from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

I suppose it’s obvious enough that people aren’t advertising some of the technologies that could make the most difference, given that there isn’t a lot of money to be made in insulating homes, reducing deforestation, or cutting total electricity consumption.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

. November 5, 2010 at 11:44 am

Rainforest Action Network and the Yes Men have put together a great campaign focusing on Chevron’s efforts to green wash their poor environmental record:

“Angry and frustrated that oil companies like Chevron think they can ignore their environmental and human rights abuses while cleaning up their image with high-cost ad campaigns? We agree! Enter our contest now and help hold Chevron accountable by making sure the company doesn’t get away with its greenwash.”

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