New greenwashing law backed by most Irish people - survey

A new study shows many consumers mistrust environmental claims made by companies, but are not confident of spotting false claims

Most Irish people support new laws clamping down on greenwashing, where businesses exaggerate or falsify environmental performance, a new study shows.

The EU has made environmental and social governance (ESG) reporting mandatory, obliging companies to demonstrate how they perform in these areas in accounts published every year.

A survey by the Compliance Institute shows that close to nine out of 10 Irish people support the law, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

It demands that EU companies report in more detail and more transparently about the impact their businesses have on the environment, human rights and social standards.


Officials have designed the new rules partly to end greenwashing, where companies present their businesses and products as environmentally friendly with no real basis for these claims. Businesses do this to win customers or attract investors, an increasing number of whom are likely to scrutinise a company’s ESG performance before backing it.

The Compliance Institute, made up of 3,500 professionals in the Republic, spanning law, accountancy, technology, risk management and other areas, found that 94 per cent of women and three out of four men support the directive’s aim.

Its study also found that 38 per cent of people “actively avoid” buying products made by companies thought to be greenwashing their businesses or activities. Younger people are more likely to do this, according to the survey of 1,000 people.

The study also found that people over the age of 55 are less aware of the problem. More than half of Irish people are aware of the practice, however. In the study, one in four felt they would be able to distinguish between companies that are greenwashing and those that are not.

Michael Kavanagh, the Compliance Institute’s chief executive, noted that many companies’ “green” references were simply marketing rather than anything measurable.

“The widespread support for the recent intervention by the EU to combat greenwashing – through the CSRD – also suggests that there is very little public trust of companies when it comes to environmental promises or claims,” he said.

“It also appears that many consumers believe that companies may mislead them about their environmental track record in order to boost the company’s bottom line, unless higher authorities get involved to stamp out such practices.”

A recent study by law firm McCann Fitzgerald found that many businesses believed their rivals were greenwashing, while their own practices were good.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas