Blog Technology

How to Communicate Your Sustainability Credentials – Without Greenwashing

3 min read
Share In a Post:
Author: Headshot of Laura West-Wilson, Head of Global at PAN
Laura West-WilsonHead of PAN Global Network
Avoid Greenwashing in your ClimateTech communications

Having green credentials has become big business; according to the IEA, clean energy accounted for 10% of global GDP growth in 2023. A UK Parliament House of Commons Committee report states that, by 2026, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Assets under Management (AuM) are forecast to reach US$34 trillion, increasing ESG share of all AuM from 14% in 2021 to 21%. 

Added to that, the EU is imposing ESG compliance requirements for companies’ supply chains and the IPCC is offering up grim predictions on the impacts of climate change, so it’s no wonder businesses and their customers are more attuned to this issue than ever. 

But how can brands ensure that genuine efforts to improve their climate footprint are not perceived as greenwashing?  

So without further ado, here are four considerations for brands wanting to communicate their green credentials authentically, without falling foul of greenwashing. 


4 Tips for Authentically Communicating Green Credentials, Without Greenwashing


1. DO – be honest

If you want to communicate about your green credentials, this needs to be authentic. That means making sure to back up your claims with concrete actions or proof points, not just communications efforts.

Brands that do this well often put climate issues at the heart of their business model, rather than adding it as an afterthought.

For example, investment apps like newly launched Clim8 or tickr are putting sustainability at the heart of their business model, by making it easy for consumers to access ESG funds.

Sustainability can’t just be a communications issue or a trend. Consider how all parts of the business contribute to your message and whether you can authentically be perceived as green if scrutinised by customers or media. Also consider your current and future employees when communicating around sustainability. Nearly 40% of millennials say they have chosen a job because of company sustainability, and this trend is set to grow.

Align departments to tell a more compelling brand story with these building blocks for success.


2. DO – keep it simple

If your green credentials are strong, gather the evidence and share it openly. Facts and stats on your website or other owned channels reassure your audience that your claims are genuine and backed up by real data. The more detailed and specific you can be on how your business is helping the climate, the better.

It also helps to keep the language simple and relatable. Complex sentences and jargon make it hard to understand what’s being said and could be perceived as trying to obscure the truth.

For example, one of our clients, Igloo Energy, was able to stand out in a crowded market of renewable energy providers by encouraging customers not to use their energy. The simple message ‘the greenest unit of energy is the one you don’t use’ resonated clearly, and helped consumers understand the part Igloo played in the green energy debate.

Igloo Energy: Encouraging customers not to use their energyPhoto credit: Igloo Energy


3. DON’T – avoid the hard questions

Think about the language you use to communicate around your sustainability credentials. Terms like “green” or “eco” have come under scrutiny recently as they interpreted in different ways by different organisations and have no formal definition. If you’re sharing initiatives with journalists, think carefully about how your language will stand up to scrutiny – again, data and hard facts are key.

Even if your organisation is taking steps to be greener but there is still a long way to go, don’t shy away from this. Open and honest communication about the journey you’re on inspires trust in your efforts and shows you are being transparent.

Read more: 5 Tips for Maximizing Awareness in the ClimateTech Industry


4. DON’T – rely on your word alone

Consider established third parties who can offer independent verification or certification to lend weight to your communications. The Carbon Trust Standard or B Corporation are widely respected organisations who offer accreditations but research the ones that are most credible and relevant to your industry. Independently audited Environmental Product Declarations or EPDs could also help add weight to your own data – but can be more difficult to secure.

This may soon become a legal requirement in the UK for the retail investment sector, as the FCA will put in place its Sustainability Disclosure Requirements and an investment label regime for retail investors starting May 31, 2024 and July 31, 2024. And, as the UK Government’s Green Finance Strategy reminds us, Britain has just 27 years to become a net-zero economy, effectively ending our contribution to climate change by 2050. 

As the climate crisis intensifies, brands that don’t have a position on sustainability will be conspicuous in their absence – and those that get it right will reap the rewards of customer and employee advocacy.

Communication has a huge role to play in a brand’s sustainability efforts being seen as genuine or greenwashing. This doesn’t mean brands should shy away from communicating around it. In fact, as the climate crisis intensifies, brands that don’t have a position on sustainability will be conspicuous in their absence – and those that get it right will reap the rewards of customer and employee advocacy.

To dive further into the building blocks for telling a compelling story, download our guide.


brand storytelling guide

An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.