Monday, December 13, 2010

The Environment and French Media

In 2007, a study done by Le Figaro announced that 97% of French people said they were ready to change their behavior to benefit the environment. This is a huge percentage of the population- and as such, an incredible market that did not go unnoticed by advertisers.

The result was a wave of greenwashing scandals. Greenwashing is the idea of making a business or company appear to be environmentally friendly through marketing without actually being good for the environment at all. Crédit Agricole, France's biggest bank, was one such example. They jumped on the Green Bandwagon and began promoting themselves as the "Green Bank". Unfortunetally, at the same time, their investment banking arm Caylon was one of the primary funders of oil exploration in the developing world and was also involved with lending money to Trafigura, a Swiss oil giant that had been caught dumping was off the ivory coast. All in all, despite claims of being Green, Crédit Agricole had no actual environmental actions to substantiate said claims.

Crédit Agricole's Greenwashing Commercial:

In response to Greenwashing fro Crédit Agricole and others (notably McDonalds), the industry became regulated with an "EU Ecolabel". The idea was to educate consumers on products that were really environmentally friendly by only allowing companies that met the EU Ecolablel's "rigorous" environmental standards to carry the EU Ecolabel's flower.
Unfortunately, the EU Ecolabel was plagued with just about as many scandals as Green Advertising. In 2006, the French Competent Body responsible for the national regulation of the label, deemed the paper company Pindo Deli worthy of receiving the EU Ecolabel. However, in a totally un-environmentally friendly manner, the pulpwood for the Pindo Deli paper appeared to actually be illegally coming from a UNESCO world heritage site- the rapidly disappearing rain forest of Sumatra.

The media is an important communicator of the issues facing the environment today. As such, it must be carefully regulated and controlled if people are to be properly informed and motivated to act.

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