As the nation pursues economic decarbonisation and Australians increasingly seek environmentally conscious consumption and investment choices, it is critical to have regulatory frameworks to guard against greenwashing.
Consumers and investors who make decisions based on dubious claims about environmental sustainability are not only misled about their purchase, but also have diverted expenditure away from genuine opportunities for social good. Regulatory bodies are increasingly vigilant in scrutinising false environmental claims with the tools they have, but there is scope to strengthen these. The Australian Government can abate greenwashing claims by creating a legal definition of environmental sustainability and shared frameworks for greenhouse gas accounting. ATSE makes the following recommendations for the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications’ inquiry into Greenwashing:
Recommendation 1: Legislate a definition of environmental sustainability to apply to consumer goods, energy products, financial products, and construction projects that interfaces with existing national and international sectoral frameworks and standards.
Recommendation 2: Implement the recommendations from the Guarantee of Origin and Australian Carbon Credit Units consultation to ensure both schemes are not vulnerable to greenwashing.
Recommendation 3: Create a national framework for greenhouse gas accounting in infrastructure.