Green washing

I went to the greenwashingindex.com web site, which was talked on class to see what was the ado about. There were a lot of commercial about the energy companies that stated how much they are investing to sustainable economies and lowering the energy need. In the top 20 commercial there were 5 energy companies.  Viewers criticized a lot about these commercials, because there was not any claims or facts about how the investments were made, and is the company really driving towards sustainability. It is true, these can be accused from green washing. But it made me think that is this the story, are these commercials just fraud to fool consumers, or are these multinational, huge companies looking really for alternatives to improve their impact to triple bottom line? Energy companies like shell and exxon (which commercials were on the top 20) will definitely harm environment, but can modern society live without gas, even for a day. Gas and oil have become mandatory part of everyday living. At the moment there is not any real alternative that could replace those on all-inclusive manner. So I have to assume that we need these companies in this sector. So this leads to the main question, do we really need to blame these for trying to improve their performance? Or are these companies charged just on the base on what they do, without concerning about the actions to “minimize” harmful effects? Is the energy consumption trend really changing or are these just beautiful words, with non-action? With these questions on my mind, I went to study further Exxon’s and Shell’s websites to see, is there more information or data provided to back up their claims. I read “Outlook for Energy, A View to 2030”, from Exxon’s web page, to see what are the company itself telling about the issue.

The first twenty pages or so talked about poverty and energy use of developing countries, how the need for energy is growing, and how Exxon’s will help this by bringing energy to everybody. The first glance really raised my doubts, that other viewers in greenwashingindex.com were right, it did not mention anything how the Exxon was improving its sustainability or green-economy view. Yes, it was about social part of triple bottom line, but still, would bringing energy to new economies make the situation even worse. “In some parts of the world, the challenge is far more basic. Today, globally, about 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity” (Exxon). “Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population – rely on burning wood, dung or other traditional biomass fuels, which can be dangerous to people’s health and harmful to air quality,” (Exxon) yes it can be harmful and yes it will “make” emission, but Exxon didn’t provide anything how they are going to tackle this problem. After continuing reading, I was able to get some answers; “Our world continues to become more energy efficient. From 1980 to 2000, the energy it took to produce one unit of GDP fell by an average 1.2 percent a year”, modern energy is more efficient, but they can be also talking about nuclear power. So any real issues have not been discussed in the report so far. But the later report got the action, they presented couple chapters about investments that Exxon have been made, to tackle to energy issues. One of these sounded interesting. It was about algae based biofuel; “In July 2009, we announced a significant new project to researchand develop algae biofuels. Our partner is Synthetic Genomics Inc (SGI), a California-based biotech firm founded by genome research pioneer Dr. J. Craig Venter. The goal of the program: to produce a commercially scalable, renewable algae-based fuel compatible with today’s gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, “ (Exxon). Exxon have been investing more than $600 million to this project. Algae based biofuels have also environmental advantages, because through photosynthesis, algae absods CO2, and converts it to oils and oxygen. This was just one example from Exxons energy vision report, but there was also bunch more like this.

 

Even though energy industry have been criticized a lot, they are still doing something good, to correct their actions. They are moving to the right directions

 

 

References

 

http://www.greenwashingindex.com/

http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Files/news_pub_eo_2009.pdf

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