Here is our very special action Guide for the Guerilla against Greenwashing!
Large pdf: Greenwashing Guide (long)
Small pdf: Greenwashing Guide (short)
1) What is Greenwashing, and what’s wrong with it?
2) The Concept of “This company is as green as…” explained
3) Guerilla Techniques
4) How to get Materials
5) How to Publish your action
6) Worst Greenwashers
7) Main Greenwashing Side-Events at COP21
1) What is Greenwashing, and what is wrong with it?
GREENWASHING = companies that wreck the climate, pollute the earth and destroy livelihoods paint themselves as environmentally friendly and socially progressive;
DISTRACTING from the negative impacts of their core activities (e.g. burning fossil fuels), helping them to pretend to be part of the climate solution (rather than problem);
MISLEADING policy-makers into believing polluters deserve a seat at the table
“The government is offering a cheap and easy opportunity for multinational climate criminals to green-wash their image. The public interest demands that these talks not be polluted by the private interests represented by these companies. Would we entrust the fight against tobacco to cigarette manufacturers? Why do it for climate policy?”
Maxime Combes of ATTAC France
“We cannot negotiate a climate agreement with those who are responsible for climate change: states must listen to citizens’ interests and not the private interests of lobbies and multinationals…Sponsoring is more about their image and gaining credibility (for the company and its climate ‘solutions’). But it might also afford them opportunities for high-level meetings. The big push will be for business-friendly solutions which don’t challenge the status-quo — e.g. moving from coal to gas, keeping government interference over climate policy to a minimum via a single carbon price (which can allow companies the freedom of choosing their own investments, be them renewables, CCS, gas etc.; as well as another avenue to lobby against a tough price), ensuring there are carbon markets, making sure business interests and growth are the real priority”.
Pascoe Sabido, reseacher and campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory
COP21 is relying on a larger percentage (20 percent) of private funding than some previous climate summits such as COP19 in Warsaw where the level of industry participation sparked protests.
2) The Concept Explained
The idea behind this greenwashing campaign is to expose the worst greenwashers present at COP21. The message “This Company is as green as this sticker / poster / banner….” is a simple one that can be repeated time and again. The repetition of this action should enable a strong dissemination of the message.
Further information concerning the action will be communicated on our website and in a press release – criticising the companies and the current economic system in which they function, (over-) produce, exploit and pollute.
3) Guerilla Techniques
The message can be spread in a number of ways…..
Act as a group: Enter an event where businesses are misbehaving and spread a clear message. Possible ingredients: banner, sambaband, chorus, theatre, blockade, noise, etc.
Act as individuals or small groups: spread stickers in a smart and creative way, for example at the promo stalls of greenwashing corporations, on the cover of their reports, or on advertisements. This can also be done with posters.
Ad-busting: the message of greenwashing advertisements/billboards and other promo-stuff can often be changed in other ways, like hijacking them with your own clear message. Be creative and go for it!
Interviews: small groups can go to the promotion stalls of greenwashing companies or to representatives of those companies at other events and ask them questions. This should be done in a smart and well prepared way to elicit some answers that can expose greenwashing. Edit the videos and let them end with the message “this is greenwashing” and put them online.
There are already a few people who are planning to do this in Paris.
The friendly way: wear a red shirt with the text “My friend is as green as this shirt” and try to make selfies with representatives from greenwashing corporations. Whoever catches the most important big-shot wins a prize.
The plan is to spread pictures and other footage about those actions on websites and social media, spreading the message virally.
Your own way: Mmaybe you know of a better, easier or funnier way to expose some dirty greenwashers in Paris, if so, go for it!
4) How to get Materials
There are stickers and posters available for people who want to join the Guerilla Against Greenwashing. On www.aseed.net/asgreenas you can find out where (as soon as they are in Paris). You can also download the poster in English or in French and print some copies yourself (on red paper!). And of course you can be creative and make your own flyer, poster, banner or other attribute to use for your own action against the greenwashers.
5) How to Publish your Action
If you have a short report or some pictures of an action against greenwashing (from yourself or something you saw in Paris), please let us know about it:
Email pictures and reports to firstname.lastname@example.org
Post your pictures and report on Indymedia Netherlands: comment (“aanvulling”) below this report.
Tweet your pictures with the #asgreenas
Post your pictures and report on ASEEDs Facebook page
The pictures and reports will be collected and an overview of all actions will be made. To get more attention for the resistance against the corporate influence at COP21, press releases about this campaign will be sent to the media present in Paris.
The Guerilla Against Greenwashing will also be part of the Climate Games.
Now for the information you really need….
Here you find a selection of greenwashing companies present at COP21, at official side-events or elsewhere in Paris. About each company there is a small description, information on their greenwashing and some practical information. Each company receives a greenwashing score. But these are just a suggestion based on companies well known for greenwashing, or with links to agriculture (and all are COP21 sponsors); however you can of course base actions on your own favourite targets.
1) Engie (formerly known as GDF Suez) – a French multinational electric utility company, which operates in the fields of electricity generation and distribution, natural gas and renewable energy. The French government holds 33% of the company’s shares. They are also the main sponsor of Solutions COP21 – the biggest greenwashing event of the conference.
Best Greenwash: On the Solutions COP21 web platform, Engie boasts of planting native plants to reduce soil erosion in Mexico7 – an underwhelming attempt to distract from the huge negative impacts of its fossil fuel projects.
Reality: The company calls itself a ‘European leader of the energy transition’, but in reality, it has a record of lobbying for shale gas, public subsidies for LNG terminals and pipelines, and against a strong public support for renewables, because it makes its European coal and gas plants uncompetitive. Instead of being a European leader of the energy transition, it is rather leading the transition to climate chaos. It has 30 coal power plants, which emit the equivalent to half of France’s emissions! It plans to invest in 7 new coal plants, including in Germany and India, despite coal’s devastating climate, environmental and health impacts. It lobbies for a global carbon market, inspired by the way Europe’s carbon market enabled dirty companies to keep profiting from polluting. Engie also lobbied hard against important EU renewables and energy efficiency targets – spending €2.5 million on EU lobbying in 2014 alone! Engie was responsible for coal-fired emissions equivalent to nearly half of France’s annual carbon output.
The multinational company is currently undertaking a massive shale gas exploration in six countries. However, even if this gas is “clean” in itself, its extraction releases 30 percent more methane than the extraction of vector gas. And chemical component (CH4) is 34 to 86 times more polluting in terms of heat retention, than carbon dioxide.
Address: Faubourg de l’Arche, 1 Place Samuel de Champlain, 92930 Paris la Défense. [La Défense: it’s a big business district just outside of Paris, very busy with loads of skyscrapers. The difficulty would be that each tower hosts many different companies. However if you get kicked out of some place you can always try the next tower with another spontaneous target.]
GREENWASH SCORE: 100
2) Renault Nissan – is a Franco-Japanese strategic partnership between automobile manufacturers Renault, based in Paris, France, and Nissan, based in Yokohama, Japan, which together sell more than 1 in 10 cars worldwide.
Best Greenwash: The company is pleased to have “taken an electric turning,” as stated by their leader Carlos Ghosn. The company says its electric vehicles are “to fight against global warming” on the Solutions COP21 web hub. Since 2010, it sold 200,000 electric cars. And a spokesperson stated in relation to recent criticism about car emissions that “the group complies with all regulations and legislation for the markets in which it operates. Its vehicles are not equipped with defeat devices.”
Reality: During that time, the company sold a record 8.5 million cars in 2014 (boosted by sales in North America and Western Europe). Also, the Chairman of Renault Nissan Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, is President of a powerful car industry lobby group ACEA, which has fought hard against tougher EU emissions reduction targets for cars!
ACEA lobbies for a climate deal that treats all EU car industry rivals – i.e. industrialising countries – the same way, despite huge differences in historical responsibility for climate change, and very different capacities to deal with it.
New diesel cars from Renault, Nissan and other manufacturers have been found to emit substantially higher levels of pollution when tested in more realistic driving conditions.
Renault’s Espace Energy dCi 160 emitted over 11 times more NOx in the WLTC test, with Renault’s Grand Scenic and Kadjar also among Adac’s top 10 polluters.
Address: 53 Avenue des Champs Élysées, 75008 Paris. Main car showroom. The best place in terms of visibility for an action, but you can expect heavy security there.
GREENWASH SCORE: 90
3) BNP Paribas – BNP Paribas is a French multinational bank and financial services company with global headquarters in Paris. BNP Paribas is one of the largest banks in the world.
Best Greenwash: The bank now promotes the “fight and funding of research against climate change” through a sponsorship program called Climate Initiative, funded to the tune of 3 million euros over 3 years. The bank even created the Climate Change Steering Committee, whose goal is nothing less than to “support the transition to a low carbon economy”.
“BNP Paribas considers the financing of the energy transition and the Greenhouse Gas reduction as a priority. Accompanying clients through these transformations means offering a range of green financing solutions. In particular BNP Paribas plays an active role in the green bond market, renewables origination and carbon financing. BNP Paribas’ innovative approach is designed to help clients navigate the energy transition with confidence”.
Reality: BNP Paribas’ financing of the coal sector include some of the most controversial projects in the world. In South Africa the bank is involved in the construction of two new huge coal-fired power plants, Medupi and Kusile. Together, they will emit 60 million tonnes of carbon every year, increasing South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17% and further exacerbating the devastating impacts of climate change on poor communities.
In India, BNP Paribas is the only international bank involved in the infamous Tata Mundra power plant, on the coast of Gujarat, through a 327 million dollar loan. The 4150 MW plant, which became fully operational in 2013, has been mired in controversy ever since construction began. It has all but ruined the livelihood of local communities. It spits massive amounts of hot water into the marine environment, destroying mangroves and fish breeding grounds. As a result, fish catches have declined dramatically. Coal dust and fly ash falling from the sky contaminates farmlands and fish left out to dry in the sun. Increased saltwater intrusions in local groundwater bodies have jeopardised irrigation and access to freshwater, in an area where this resource was already scarce. Local people complain that chest pains and respiratory problems are on the rise.
Despite their claims to fight climate change, its annual investments in coal more than tripled between 2005 and 2013.
Address: Various banks across Paris (e.g. – 55 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris)
GREENWASH SCORE: 80
4) AirFrance – is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, (north of Paris). It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. As of 2013 Air France serves 36 destinations in France and operates worldwide scheduled passenger and cargo services to 168 destinations in 93 countries.
Best Greenwash: Yes, Air France is investing in biofuels. In addition, if one believes the company’s website, “the world aviation represents only 2 percent of total CO2 emissions”.
Reality: Air France has opposed emissions reductions in the aviation sector. When nitrogen oxide is added to the global emissions of greenhouse gasses caused by aviation, figures show an output of 10%. Furthermore, Air France is still exempt from taxes on kerosene – like the entire industry.
Address: 45, rue de Paris, 95 747 Roissy CDG Cedex
GREENWASH SCORE: 70
5) JC Decaux – is a multinational corporation based in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, France, known for its bus-stop advertising systems, billboards, public bicycle rental systems, and street furniture. It is the largest outdoor advertising corporation in the world.
Best Greenwash: On the frontpage of its website the company shows it is an official partner of the COP21. And about its environmental responsibility you can find this text: “JCDecaux has taken a global approach to its environmental policies, taking into account its whole value chain, to reduce the use of natural resources and limit the environmental impacts of its operating activities throughout its products’ lifecycle”.
Reality: The core business of JCDecaux is to persuade people to buy all kind of products by showing them advertisements in the streets, public transport and other locations. This is promotion of overconsumption. In its ‘whole value chain’ the company has no criteria to ban advertisements for extra polluting products and activities like large cars, holiday flights or any misleading greenwashing advertisement. In this sense JCDecaux is the largest facilitator or greenwashing in the public space.
Address: 17 Rue Soyer, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine, France (headquarters)
GREENWASH SCORE: 70
6) IKEA – IKEA is a multinational group of companies that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, appliances, small motor vehicles and home accessories. As of January 2008, it is the world’s largest furniture retailer.
Best Greenwash: The firm launched in 2013 a program named “People & Planet Positive”. IKEA boats: 76 percent of its cotton comes from “more sustainable sources” in the world, 700,000 solar panels are installed on roofs, and it holds 224 turbines and aims to use 75 percent eco bulbs in its stores.
Reality: Wood, the companies most used raw material, contributes to mass deforestation. If 41 percent of wood comes from “sustainable” sources that still leaves 59% from unsustainable sources….
Address: Various shops on edge of Paris (e.g. – 35 Rue Jean Jaurès, 94350 Villiers sur Marne, but also this location is far from Paris and not very busy.)
7) Avril – Avril is a French agribusiness. Its name may not be well-known, but it is a huge company with a €7.3bn turnover. It is mainly present throughout the oils and proteins sectors. In addition, Avril is also present in the field of finance via its financing and development company Sofiprotéol, which is present upstream and downstream of the sectors. It has joined the “Solutions COP21” platform, advertising its new biodiesel and the introduction of large-scale soy production in France as ‘climate solutions’.
Best Greenwash: “Avril works on environmental protection throughout the sector and has made a commitment as an industrial group to continually improve its ecological footprint.”
Reality: Avril is the leading biofuels producer in France, and is involved in biotechnology, including the development of GMOs. Its CEO Xavier Beulin has close ties with French President Hollande. Xavier has presented the ridiculous and incoherent position that “biotechnology is the future of organic farming.” Avril is also accused of standing in the way of small farmers and undermining food sovereignty.
Address: AVRIL PÔLE VÉGÉTAL, 11 Rue de Monceau, 75008 Paris
AVRIL PÔLE ANIMAL SITE DE PARIS, Tour Montparnasse – 43ème étage, 33 avenue du Maine 75015 Paris (Difficult: this is a 220 metres high sky scraper)
GREENWASH SCORE: 50
8) Coca Cola – produced by The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke.
Best Greenwash: “Engaging our suppliers is an essential component of our multifaceted approach. Our Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (SAGP) helps define what “more sustainable sourcing” means to us and lay out our expectations for suppliers in the following areas: human and workplace rights, environmental stewardship and responsible farm management.
Reality: Coca-Cola has a documented history of depleting water sources in poor countries. It has pushed against progressive waste and recycling legislation and practices.
Address: 9 Chemin de Bretagne, 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux, France (outside of Paris)
GREENWASH SCORE: 50
9) Carrefour – is a French multinational retailer headquartered in Boulogne Billancourt, France, in Greater Paris. It is one of the largest hypermarket chains in the world (with 1,452 hypermarkets at the end of 2011), the fourth largest retail group in the world in terms of revenue, and the third in profit.
Best Greenwash: “Carrefour considers sustainability of paramount importance. It is the key to steady growth, profitability and ensures the continued existence of the company. Moreover, we try to Carrefour trends to be one step ahead by keeping in touch with what is happening with our clients. So we expanded in 1997 our product range with organic and fair trade products”.
Reality: Carrefour argues in favour of a voluntary reporting system for social and environmental information, which argues that companies should have the flexibility to consider which international frameworks or alternative indicators are most appropriate for their business – or rather, companies should be free to choose what information to disclose and which to leave out.
Address: Supermarkets across Paris (e.g. – 79 Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris, France)
GREENWASH SCORE: 50
10) Suez Environment S.A. – a French-based utility company which operates largely in the water treatment and waste management sectors. Engie (GDF Suez) is the largest shareholder of the company with a 35% stake.
Best Greenwash: “For SUEZ environment, acting for ‘sustainable development’ is to aspire for lasting and harmonious development.”
Reality: Suez Environment is among the French companies lobbying for shale gas as part of the Centre for Non-conventional Hydrocarbons. While Suez environment is not directly involved in fossil fuel extraction (unlike Engie/GDF Suez, which owns 1/3rd of Suez Environment), it operates as a service provider for the treatment of water polluted by these processes. In doing so, it validates activities which are extremely harmful to the environment and the climate.
Address: Tour CB21, 16, place de l’Iris, 92040 Paris La Défense (once again, in the business district)
GREENWASH SCORE: 40
11) BMW – is a German luxury automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. BMW is headquartered in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It also owns and produces Mini cars, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad, and plug-in electric cars under the BMW i sub-brand. BMW is one of the best-selling luxury automakers in the world.
Best Greenwash: “Biodiversity and sustainable building are the focus of all our deliberations”.
Reality: Huge car industry growth is incompatible with urgent climate action. BMW lobbied tirelessly against emissions reduction targets for the EU car industry. Its CEO urged politicians at German auto-industry event to say “Yes to TTIP!” for its huge growth potential.
Address: Locations across Paris (e.g. – 93 Avenue Emile Zola, 75015 Paris, France)
GREENWASH SCORE: 50
Main Greenwashing Side Events
- COP21 Sustainability Innovation Forum – The Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF15) is the largest business focused event held during the annual Conference of Parties (COP).
Building on year-round work from Climate Action and the UN Environment Programme, the 2 day Forum will convene cross-sector participants from business, Government, finance, UN, NGO and civil society to create an unparalleled opportunity to bolster business innovation and bring scale to the emerging green economy.
GREENWASH SCORE: 100
Date and Address: 7- 8 December at COP21 at Stade de France (gate E) in Paris.
- Solutions COP21 – ‘Solutions COP21’ is a big corporate-sponsored expo coinciding with the Paris climate talks. A chance for big business to promote its pie-in-the-sky market-based techno-fixes to climate change. (False) Solutions COP21 is all about ensuring damaging business models can continue, keeping up corporate profits whilst wrecking the climate, local environments and communities’ livelihoods.
‘Trophies for Climate Solutions’ has been launched by Solutions COP21 and others2 to “reward the best solutions in businesses (big corporations, subsidiaries, SMEs, VSEs)” for mitigation of climate change, and adaptation to its effects.
GREENWASH SCORE: 100
2 Dec: Trophies awarded at World Efficiency’s ‘Solutions Gallery’, Le Bourget.
4 Dec: Winners honoured at Solutions COP21 Winners Conference, Grand Palais.
Date and Address: 4-10 December at Le Grand Palais, avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris (just at the end of the Champs Elysées)
- World Climate Summit – 6 December – Yearly event sponsored by the government of Dubai, Alstom, Lima COP 20 and others, with 4,000 delegates. Business is invited to “brand your organisation as a climate leader”
Location: Hotel Potocki (Paris Chamber of Commerce), 27 Avenue de Friedland, Paris
- Caring for Climate Business Forum – 7-8 December – Hosted by the UN Global Compact to give members quality time with UNFCCC chief Figueres and COP 21 President Fabius, supported by EDF and Engie among others.
Location: Le Bourget
- Council meeting WBCSD – 7-10 December – Exclusively for the members of this World Business Council for Sustainable Development, who include Shell, Dow Chemicals, Volkswagen, Rio Tinto.
- Energy for Tomorrow – 8-9 December – Conference organised by the International New York Times, partnered by the WBCSD and We Mean Business, speakers include CEO of Total.
Location: Hotel Potocki (Paris Chamber of Commerce), 27 Avenue de Friedland , Paris
Guided Tours: You can also join AITEC, ATTAC France, Corporate Europe Observatory, l’Observatoire des Multinationales and the Transnational Institute for a guided ‘lobby tour’ of Paris’s climate criminals, with a special focus on the ongoing UN climate talks in the French capital, COP21.
Monday 30 November at 11:30 am
Thursday 3 December at 11:30am
Monday 7 December at 11:30 am
To sign-up to any of the tours or for more information, please email email@example.com
To print a smaller version of this guide please download the following pdf : Greenwashing Guide (short)
Or for the full version: Greenwashing Guide (long)