Air cargo faces up to “huge issue” of greenwashing

Source: Air Cargo News

The air cargo sector is facing the huge issue of greenwashing as companies struggle to prove that their environmental initiatives are making a difference.

On a panel discussion at this week’s Tiaca executive summit, speakers said that companies were being accused of greenwashing even when they were doing their best to reduce the environmental impact of their operations.

This resulted in some companies hiding their environmental actions to avoid criticism.

Lionel van der Walt, chief growth officer at logistics platform Raft, said that greenwashing is a huge issue in the industry.

This partly stemmed from there being “a lot of people making statements about achieving certain objectives by certain years” but that “they never get there”.

He hoped that the incoming Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) from the European Union would help provide clarity on what actions companies are taking to reduce their environmental impact.

CSRD will replace existing reporting regulations from January next year and increase reporting requirements and over time expand the number of companies that are required to report.

“What we are going to have with these annual assessments is that it’s going to come out very quickly as to what you are doing, how successful you are being and what your strategies are,” said van der Walt.

“If you are able to demonstrate that, you have got nothing to worry about, but if you are just making statements and you really don’t have the data to back it up, you are going to run into a problem very quickly and there is a tsunami of regulations coming that are going to catch you out.”

Christel Vandenhouten, head of sustainable development, Brussels Airport Company, said that it had faced criticism even when it produced data to back up its environmental action.

“Even if we provide the data and we prove the facts and figures, often, action groups come with their own figures because they have made their own study or they find another study on the internet to prove that we are wrong and that we are greenwashing,” she said.

“So for us, it is very difficult and we are very careful of what we are communicating about.”

Van der Walt hoped that the new European regulations would help bring some standardisation to environmental reporting.

However, he added that various regulators and bodies were bringing out different standards meaning that they would not all be 100% aligned.

“I think over time we will get to the point where we have standardisation but right now there are just too many different regulations,” he said.

Celine Hourcade of consultant Change Horizon acknowledged that “green hushing” existed, meaning companies preferred not to say anything about what they are doing to avoid the risk of being attacked.

Hourcade said that companies should stick to the facts that can be proven but also tell the story when communicating their CSR initiatives.

“So instead of focussing on promises and the future, tell your story, your current actions right now and try to be down to earth,” she said.

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]