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It’s becoming more common for NGOs to call on regulators to take specific actions on greenwashing. We’ve seen this particularly in Canada and France where NGOs highlight companies they believe are engaged in greenwashing or other wrongdoing and forward their evidence to regulators. This dialogue with regulators has resulted in at least one full-blown investigation in the case of Lululemon. Now NGO Make My Money Matter has requested that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigate claims made by some of the UK’s largest banks. PA Future writes:

“In light of the FCA’s new anti-greenwashing rule and guidance, and existing CMA and ASA guidance on sustainability claims, Make My Money Matter asked regulators to review financing and communications and transparency at Barclays, HSBC, Santander, NatWest and Lloyds. The letter calls for the FCA to review the mismatch between banks’ promotion of climate statements and 1.5-degree alignment with their real-world activity. It also urged an investigation into the imagery and prominence of climate and sustainability in brand assets, which contrasts with a lack of transparency around unsustainable activity and potentially misleads the public.”

The FCA isn’t obligated to take up this investigation. Cases like this show us that it’s not just the watchful eye of regulators that companies have to be wary of. In reality, NGOs are acting as supplemental staff for regulators. That’s why it’s imperative for companies to consider every external communication carefully and abide by national law and best practices when making sustainability claims.

Our members can find more information on greenwashing here.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile