Green Washing

Greenwashing takes many forms; it is defined an a superficial attempt to make oneself or one’s organization appear more environmentally conscious. Companies and businesses try to Greenwash their products and policies, as goes the common assessment. However, what are some examples of political Greenwashing?

Take a look at the Wikipedia page documenting Renewable Energy in the People’s Republic of China. While you’re there, try to find the words “Three Gorges Dam.” They’re present, right underneath a fish-eye shot of the churning outlet of the most massive hydroelectric project in the history of human industrial development. So why are they nowhere else in the article? It’s hard to say, but the editors did include this fascinating paragraph.

“On April 6, 2007 the Gansu Dang River Hydropower Project[8] was registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in accordance with the requirements of Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project consists of the construction and operation of eight run-of-river hydropower plants providing total capacity of 35.4 GW, which will generate an average of 224 GWh/year. The power generated by the project, which is located in Dang Town, Subei Mongolian Autonomous County, Gansu Province, China, and which was certified by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to be in compliance with the “Measures for the Operation and Management of Clean Development Mechanism Projects in China”, will be sold to the Gansu power grid which is part of the China Northwest Regional Power Grid (NWPG), thereby displacing equivalent amounts of electricity generated by the current mix of power sold to the NWPG. The developer of the Gansu Dang River Hydropower Project, which started construction on November 1, 2004, is the Jiayuguan City Tongyuan Hydropower Co., Ltd. The Letter of Approval of the NDRC permits the Jiayuguan City Tongyuan Hydropower Co., Ltd. to transfer to Japan Carbon Finance, Ltd., an entity approved by the government of Japan no more than 1.2 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions in total Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) over the seven-year period beginning on May 1, 2007 and ending on April 30, 2014.[9] ”

Notice how many time this paragraph mentions foreign governments’ approvals of this particular Chinese industrial development. Undoubtedly the author wished to emphasize China’s technological developments and not its environmental developments, such as the recent environmental problems linked to the construction of Three Gorges Dam.

I wish greenwashing weren’t necessary. I wish that companies and governments could be honestly environmentally conscious without even having to talk about. It would make my job, and the jobs of a lot of environmentalists, a lot easier.

Most of all, I wish someone would update Wikipedia.


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