Go Green, Then ‘Go Dark’?
Not so long ago, it seems, companies scored points by drawing attention to their sustainability goals. Now the momentum appears to have shifted, with many engaging in . Heres what to know The term is the idea that an organization is overstating its environmental practices. Those kinds of critiques from the left, as well as newer criticism from the right over environmental, social and governance (E.S.G.) initiatives, have led some companies to keep quiet even about legitimate green goals. Some context: Last spring, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules that would require public companies to disclose and account for their environmental impact all along the supply chain. In response, officials in Republican-led states began prohibiting managers of state retirement funds from taking E.S.G. into account, and , which President Biden vetoed last month. in response to the groundswell of scrutiny of companies E.S.G. commitments and disclosures, said Lisa Sachs, director of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment. An analysis of 1,200 companies published last fall by South Pole, a Swiss consultancy, found that one in four planned to go green but then go dark that is, keep its climate commitments under the radar. Greenhushing traces back to 2008, but it didnt take off until the South Pole team, unaware of the terms existence, used it in its report, said Nadia Kahkonen, a spokeswoman. Suddenly it began appearing in headlines and was being bandied about in corporate governance and climate finance circles. Our team seems to have really brought the term into the mainstream, Kahkonen said. Hermine Penz, an English professor at the University of Graz in Austria who studies the language of environmentalism, said the emergence of the term pointed to a pivot in corporate thinking about the environment. Any society only finds new words if there is a new phenomenon to describe language is economical, he said. Is it now a no-go to be green? Do companies have to hide their activities? People dont know how to talk about what they are doing. explores idioms of the business world. Want to nominate a word or term? Email us at