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Are companies using Twitter to greenwash and hide bad environmental performance?

Johnson, T. F. and Greenwell, M. P. ORCID: (2022) Are companies using Twitter to greenwash and hide bad environmental performance? Energy, Ecology and Environment, 7 (3). pp. 213-226. ISSN 2363-8338

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s40974-021-00237-y


Companies and related consumer behaviours contribute significantly to global carbon emissions. However, consumer behaviour is shifting, with the public now recognising the real and immediate impact of climate change. Many companies are aware and seemingly eager to align to consumer’s increasing environmental consciousness, yet there is a risk that some companies could be presenting themselves as environmentally friendly without implementing environmentally beneficial processes and products (i.e. greenwashing). Here, using longitudinal climate leadership, environmental messaging (Twitter) and stock price data, we explore how climate leadership (a relative climate change mitigation metric) and environmental messaging have changed for hundreds of UK companies. Using the environmental messaging, we also assess whether companies are simply greenwashing their true climate change performance. Finally, we explore how climate leadership and environmental messaging influence companies’ stock prices. We found that companies (on average) have increased their climate leadership (coef: 0.14, CI 0.12–0.16) and environmental messaging (coef: 0.35, CI 0.19–0.50) between 2010 and 2019. We also found an association where companies with more environmental messaging had a higher climate leadership (coef: 0.16, CI 0.07–0.26), suggesting messaging was proportionate to environmental performance, and so there was no clear pattern of using Twitter for greenwashing across UK companies. In fact, some companies may be under-advertising their pro-environmental performance. Finally, we found no evidence that climate leadership, environmental messaging or greenwashing impacts a company’s stock price.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:111363
Publisher:Springer Science and Business Media LLC


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