Artificial Intelligence: As the topic of ESG becomes a must for companies, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between what is right and the so-called “greenwashing” – the common nonsense.
Researchers from University College Dublin, Ireland decided to launch the GreenWatch project, which uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to detect and identify what’s not quite right in companies’ rhetoric about their environmental footprint.
GreenWatch analyzes the sustainability claims of 700 global companies and compares them to the companies’ performance and activities – for example, to check whether a company really reduces carbon emissions by 7% per year to achieve a zero footprint by 2050, according to Bloomberg to reach.
The group also analyzes what companies are saying about climate change: if they simply agree that global warming must be tackled, or… if they describe themselves as “leaders” in this area – therein usually lies the danger, according to the project.
The group ranks companies based on how solid their sustainability claims are. Categories such as “Green Leaders”, “Hidden Green Heroes”, “Progressive Green” and potential or probable “Environment Washers” are used.
According to Bloomberg, the initial results of the project show that 95% of claims made by telecom and media companies have a high probability of being greenwashed. On the other hand, this proportion falls to less than half of the information provided by companies in the energy sector.
Broken down by country, according to GreenWatch, Japanese companies are most likely to be greenwashed (84 percent), followed by American companies (75 percent). “Companies spin story after story. If nobody checks them, they can say whatever they want.
And because sustainability is a broad term, it’s easy for companies to write a story that distracts from the real issues,” Andreas Hubner, an economics professor at University College Dublin who is leading the project, told Bloomberg.