You’ve seen the ads: a soft-focus sunrise over a lush forest landscape, sweeping music as an attractive millennial pauses a hike to stare thoughtfully at the horizon. The voiceover tells you that a big corporation truly cares about our future and our planet, and so they are… well, what ARE they doing, exactly? They’re listening to market research like a Pew survey that found 37 percent of Gen Z and a third of millennials, Gen X, and boomers identify climate change as their top personal concern. And so savvy companies are making gestures – a little recycling here, a little tree-planting there, maybe certifying one product out of a big portfolio as climate neutral – and trumpeting those incremental efforts as a real commitment to the environment.
Consumers are catching onto this kind of greenwashing, though, and so is the government. In March 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission held a preliminary vote to require publicly traded companies to disclose climate-related metrics, including greenhouse gas emissions. The move is intended to give investors more information – if a company’s practices make its profits vulnerable to future environmental regulation, it’s a bigger risk for stockholders, too – but the SEC rules will also give consumers a clear look at whether big businesses have really put their money where their alleged values are. Carbon accounting is even becoming a commonly required practice for companies backed by venture capital firms.
Consumers and investors won’t be the only beneficiaries of the SEC rules. Smaller companies who have been working hard to do the right thing by the climate will be winners, too. It can be frustrating to compete with big marketing budgets and corporations that use them to promote a false image of their environmental commitment. Regulation – whether in the form of the required SEC disclosures or other legislation under consideration – will help to level the playing field and give an advantage to those businesses that partner with experts like ClimateHound to achieve true climate neutrality through both reduction strategies and carbon offsets with measurable impact. ClimateHound can also help you to tell your story to consumers – from your founding values to your current plan for climate action – in a way that’s authentic and grounded in real numbers and real progress. Which means that when that millennial goes hiking, it’s your product they pull out of their backpack.