Cherry and Sneirson on Chevron and Greenwashing

by Kevin Jon Heller

It’s not every day that a law review article comes along that combines two of my interests: greenwashing, whereby large corporations pretend to care about the environment in order to distract people from the fact that they are busily destroying it, and Chevron.  So I want to put in a hearty plug for Miriam Cherry and Judd Sneirson’s “Chevron, Greenwashing, and the Myth of ‘Green Oil Companies’,” which is forthcoming in the Journal of Energy, Climate, and the Environment.  Here is the abstract:

As green business practices grow in popularity, so does the temptation to “greenwash” one’s business to appear more environmentally and socially responsible than it actually is. We examined this phenomenon in an earlier paper, using BP and the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe as a case study and developing a framework for policing dubious claims of corporate social responsibility. This Article revisits these issues focusing on Chevron, an oil company that claims in its advertisements to care deeply about the environment and the communities in which it operates, even as it faces an $18 billion judgment for polluting the Ecuadorean Amazon and injuring its people. After describing Chevron’s “we agree” advertising campaign, the Article sets out our framework for approaching “faux” corporate social responsibility, gauges whether misled consumers and investors might have a legal remedy as a result of Chevron’s advertising claims, and proposes refinements to better regulate corporate greenwashing.

As Cherry and Sneirson point out in their introduction, Chevron touts “The Chevron Way” on its website, insisting that the corporation “is built on our values, which distinguish us and guide our actions. We conduct our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner. We respect the law, support universal human rights, protect the environment and benefit the communities where we work.”

Noted without comment.

http://opiniojuris.org/2012/04/06/cherry-and-sneirson-on-chevron-and-greenwashing/

Comments are closed.