Just as my fingers finished typing “One Hundred Shades of Green” – a name I thought to be apt for my microblog (and designed to carefully avoid any confusion with “Fifty Shades of Grey”), a quick Google Search revealed that the title is taken already! It belongs to a polysemous 2023 book by Walter Hes. From what I gather, the protagonist while hiding in the Amazon rainforest, fights for justice and redemption of the Indigenous tribes of Brazil and humanity’s salvation. Incidentally, this book in turn, should not be confused with “One Thousand Shades of Green…” a record of Mike Dilger’s quest to find 1,000 plant species in a year, that otherwise was tragically marked by COVID. So definitely, much green content in both books.
Back to my no longer micro-, blog. Not to be deterred, I decided to call this piece, One Hundred and Fifty Shades of Green.
But I digress. I had two objectives for the blog.
First, I wanted to share some new-fangled terms that I came across, which are certainly an addition to my lexicon. These go well beyond the now familiar, greenwashing, whereby entities layer their actions with a green patina – sometimes without a good basis. Some of the new terms include, Greenrinsing (with apologies to the initiated, but I’m offering quick web-sourced definitions that may be of help to others) or changing one’s targets (you know, the age-old moving the goal posts); Greenshifting or transferring the blame to consumers; and Greenhushing which I understand as downplaying an entity’s sustainability considerations, to avoid scrutiny, I suppose.
I can think of several others to add to the set, such as “GreensprinklingTM”, involving, you know, sprinkling some superficial or seemingly nature-positive actions everywhere, or “GreengushingTM” for over-the-top greening claims (an antonym for greenhushing perhaps), or “GreenmilkingTM” for…. Well, you get the drift. While I am at it, I’ve placed my trademark against these rather relevant new terms.
The more important second point where I was headed before I happened to run into all this digression with names and terms, was to draw attention to important relevant efforts by the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN). GFIN is a cohort of some 80 international organizations committed to supporting financial innovation in the interest of consumers. GFIN will be launching on June 5, the first- ever Greenwashing TechSprint. The event will continue through September; results will be showcased on September 13 -14. So far, a group of 12 fintech regulators including Central Banks (Bahrain, Georgia, India, Ukraine, et al), Financial Supervisory/Conduct/ Services Authorities (Colombia, Malta, Philippines, UK, etc.), and the World Bank, have signed up to participate. In addition to international regulators, GFIN aims to bring together firms and innovators to work on developing “a tool or solution that can help regulators and the market effectively tackle the risks of greenwashing in financial services.” I expect that they will look at the multiple shades of greenwashing, including those called out above.
The markets for ESG-related products and services grow more sophisticated every day, and all but the savviest consumers can keep pace with the nuances. It is thus vital that the planet is safeguarded against this emerging, new climate-related threat: the risk of financial firms, greenwashing or worse “Greengushing” about the sustainability of their investments, or “Greenmilking”, their inflated outcomes.
KEYWORDS climate, green financing, greenwashing