Climate neutrality: Credible communication instead of greenwashing
If a company is committed to environmental protection/action, it likely follows that they wish to communicate this to the outside world. But how?
The Thing About Wording
Climate-neutral, CO2-neutral, CO2-negative, climate-positive, climate-neutralized or even environmentally neutral: At the moment, many companies are searching for the right words to succinctly describe their commitment to climate action/environmental protection. At the same time, the media and NGOs have taken it upon themselves to critically review this commitment – often on the premise that it is pure greenwashing anyway. Whether the EU’s planned green claims initiative can quickly bring clarity here is open to doubt: Those who find climate neutrality claims inaccurate or misleading will continue to do so. In order to defend one’s statements, in terms of whether they are acceptable or not, means they will have to be fought for in court, or at least that can be expected in most cases. So, is it best just to not to say anything at all about one of the most important problems that mankind has to solve? Doubtful.
Companies have been and are being urged by their stakeholders to be part of the solution. This includes speaking out about the impact of their products on the climate and the environment. What needs to change for many, however, is the way they communicate. Regardless of the terminology, we need to agree that in our society, it is already true that abbreviated feelgood statements are not viable socially, legally or in the media. Instead, it is important to report in a well-founded and comprehensible manner on our own path toward greater climate action.
5 tips to help communicate climate neutrality
- Provide your own contribution first
In sustainability management AND communication, the following always applies: focus on avoidance, reduction, greening – only at that point can you hope to expect compensation!
- Allow for easy accessibility to background information
On your website or CSR report, background information on how climate neutrality is achieved and how it is embedded in your sustainability strategy should be made easily accessible and easy to understand.
- Be precise
Beware of abbreviation or even whitewashing: formulate facts precisely and attach importance to every detail.
- Place limits to transparency
Define what content and data are important for your stakeholders to understand. But also define your limits, for example, when it comes to competition-relevant, sensitive details.
- The right benchmark
Never claim perfection! Instead, remain realistic and communicate accordingly: Sustainable business is a learning process. And mistakes happen – the important thing is to learn from them and strive for continuous improvement.
There is no doubt about it: quick fixes and aimless activism will not lead to success in this area. What is needed is a strategic approach and the will to tackle the issue of climate action seriously and in the long term.