The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines 'greenwashing' as "disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image." It is argued that the presence of the word in the dictionary indicates the growing trend of this phenomenon among corporations.
The trend of 'greenwashing' seems to be on the rise as oil companies, known to reap heavily from degradation of the soil, pollution of the air and global warming, realise that they have to re-present themselves as partners towards global climate solutions, manufacturers of automobiles, jets and airplanes realise they can launder their image even as they promote their products and companies in all industries realise the importance of presenting their activities and products as climate-friendly, to make socially conscious investors and consumers more comfortable with buying their products. In most cases, the 'green' propaganda is also aimed at achieving an unfair advantage over competitors (BP's Rebranding,2005).
Deen (2002) reports that the wave of 'greenwashing' began more than a decade and half back, in 1990, when on 'Earth Day millions of people across the world gathered to protest the declining health of the planet. This made it glaringly clear to the several multinational corporations that the average human had started to take interest in the wellbeing of his environment.
British Petroleum (BP)...
The company also owns 23 refineries and 32 chemical manufacturing plants around the world (BP's Rebranding, 2005).
In mid 2000, BP launched one of the most expensive public relations and advertising campaign in recent times, re-presenting the company as an environmental-friendly one and introducing a new slogan 'Beyond Petroleum'. In line with the campaign, the chief of the company was quoted as saying; "The time to consider the policy dimensions of climate change is not when the link between greenhouse gases and climate change is conclusively proven, but when the possibility cannot be discounted and is taken seriously by the society of which we are part. We in BP have reached that point". During the course of the campaign, BP touted itself as the global leader in producing the cleanest burning fossil fuel, first company to introduce cleaner burning fuels to many of the world's most polluted cities and the largest producer of solar energy in the world (BP's Rebranding, 2005).
Also, Manuel (1999) argues that lofty slogans like "the first step is to acknowledge the impact we have on the environment. The next step is to do something about it" that can be found all through the BP's publications and website paints an image that looks more like that of an environmental organisation as against that of an oil company (Manuel, 1999, p.6). With such moves and statements, BP sought to distinguish itself as one oil company that is different from all others. According to the article from Sourcewatch, this attempt is not only to distinguish BP as an oil company from it's more notorious European counterparts, but also the aggressive American oil companies like Exxon Mobil and the likes. This was concisely conveyed in the statement of Anna Catalano, the Group