Taking Aim at Greener Grasses? Asia and Australia Target Greenwashing

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The growing problem of greenwashing across Asia and Australia has recently come under scrutiny as authorities attempt to tackle the deceitful marketing tactics of businesses.

Jihyeon Ha, a former fossil fuel lawyer now a climate advocate, has successfully convinced South Korean oil company SK E&S to retract their claims of producing carbon-free gas. Ha is now calling for more robust measures to crack down on greenwashing by corporations in the Asia-Pacific region.

In January, South Korea became the first country in East Asia to propose a law that would penalise companies for making false or inflated claims about their environmental practices and commitments to achieving net-zero emissions. This comes as more scrutiny is being placed on regional companies regarding their environmental credentials.

Last year at the COP27 climate summit, U.N. experts raised concerns about the high occurrence of greenwashing globally. An international organisation is considering new standards for assessing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) credentials.

An Australian regulator has initiated its first greenwashing case against a pension fund in Asia-Pacific, with increasing ESG investment and public demand for eco-friendly products. Hong Kong and Singapore compete to become the region’s green finance centres by implementing stricter ESG regulations.

“Some Asian countries might be making faster progress than the U.S. in addressing greenwashing, rather than just being limited to the U.S. and Europe,” said vice president and head of ESG at investment firm Matthews Asia Kathlyn Collins.

With the growing awareness about greenwashing and increased regulations, Asia and Australia are aiming at this problem. It will be interesting to see how successful these efforts are.

“The Asia-Pacific region is a great example of how governments are taking the initiative to tackle greenwashing and set up regulations that protect consumers from being misled about sustainability,” said Collins. “It’s an important step towards building trust and transparency in the ESG investing space.”

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