Greenwash of the Week

Written by Amanda Starbuck

Topics: Finance

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GreenwashIt’s the time of year when banks put their ‘best foot forward’ and prepare to be scrutinized by their shareholders at annual general meetings (AGMs). It’s a legal requirement, the AGM is held every year where the board of directors is elected, and the highest-ranking staff report to members on previous and future activities.

So it’s no surprise that this is also the time of year when we hear new announcements about sustainability initiatives, that make the banks sound like Captain Planet.

A couple of this year’s batch have caused me to raise my eyebrow.

This technically-dynamic, interactive video ‘experience’ from Canadian TD Bank proudly proclaims their campaign to protect the world’s forests.

This sounds wonderful, but scratch the surface to find that this is a hyperbolic promotion of a paper-recycling program. Reducing and recycling are both good things to do – but in 2012, these are things that we should be doing as a matter of course, without even thinking about, let alone spending big bucks to ‘market’.

Meanwhile Citi sent out its 2011 Citizenship report, which contained an announcement that it has exceeded its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below 2005 levels by 2011 (covering direct emissions, and those associated with power purchased, respectively). Again, this is nice behavior, but the real problem is Citi’s financed emissions – those financial resources the bank allocates to the fossil fuel industry. When will the banks wake up to this and start taking critical climate-saving action?

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