The Energy and Environment Legal Institute has requested the SEC to take appropriate action to prevent and prohibit registrants from making materially false and misleading claims and statements related to global climate change. As support for its cause, the Institute refers to a press release by a public company and categorizes the claims as “greenwashing.” While there is no legal definition of greenwashing, some think it occurs when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact.
In the complained of press release, the Institute notes:
- A public company cannot sign the Paris Climate Agreement or meet its goals.
- The public company does not emit a significant amount of greenhouse gases and cannot possibly make any difference to average global temperature.
- It is not at all clear that electric vehicles result in less emissions.
- The reality is that public company’s renewable energy policy is raising energy costs for the company without providing any sort of actual climate benefit.
- Scientific research indicates that deforestation cools, rather than warms the planet.
No court or regulatory agency has affirmed the accuracy of the Institute’s comments or found that the complained of press release was false and misleading or violated law.