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Greenwashing ‘is now no longer’, says president of business body

·2-min read

Consumers have started to see through attempts by companies to greenwash their activities, the president of one of the country’s biggest business groups has said.

The Confederation of British Industry’s Lord Bilimoria said that in the last six years since the Paris Agreement, scepticism around global warming has dissipated.

It has caused a step change in how businesses approach environmental goals, he said.

“The companies are now setting these targets themselves. I think greenwashing is now no longer,” Lord Bilimoria said.

“This is something genuinely that companies want to do, are doing, because they believe in it now.

“There isn’t that scepticism that perhaps existed six years ago.”

He added: “I think people see through greenwashing now.”

According to CBI data, businesses will spend £130 billion to reskill people over the next decade.

The CBI speaks on behalf of around 190,000 businesses across the UK, from many different sectors.

Lord Bilimoria said that the large presence of business at the current Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow sets it apart from previous Cop meetings.

“It’s not just countries setting targets, it’s businesses setting targets and it’s businesses walking the talk as well.

“It’s a watershed Cop, there’s no question about it.

“The other big thing in Cop this time … is finance. We’re seeing the huge amounts of commitments when it comes to finance that have been committed to enable this green transition.”

He was speaking ahead of a dinner hosted by the CBI for members and dignitaries on Thursday night.

US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will address the dinner.

CBI director general Tony Danker is expected to tell the audience that “this job is on us”.

“Governments are making some progress at Cop26, but only serious business action can keep 1.5C alive,” he will say at the event in Glasgow.

“We cannot achieve net zero without clean energy to power our world. Without foundational industries, from agriculture, to mining, to building, shifting to sustainable ways of working.”

He will say companies that show the “greatest boldness” need to be rewarded if the world is to get to net zero and will call on firms to show the way.

“This is a time for business leadership. We can’t do it without governments but nor can we wait for them to reach perfect agreement. This is a moment in history where every firm needs to step up and lead.

“For some of you, I know, this is a moral obligation; a commitment to business as a force for good or to leaving a sustainable legacy to future generations.”

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