As the organizing committee for the 2020 Japan Summer Olympics asserts it is the most eco-friendly games in history, numerous environmental groups dismiss this claim as blatant greenwashing.
People across the globe are increasingly aware of the effect of industry on the environment due to reports, such as the yearly Greenhouse Bulletin, published by the World Meteorological Institute. According to a discussion of this year’s report by CNN, the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has reached a high that has not been not reached in the past 800,000 years. Many climate experts attribute the cause of many climatological aberrations to the rapid rise in CO2 levels. As the public learns about the effect of high concentrations of greenhouse gases, they are exerting pressure on their governments, as well as on local, national, and international business sectors, to switch to products, practices, and policies that limit and/or eliminate the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, many industry claims related to using green practices are simply greenwashing.
Japan’s 2020 Olympic Stadium: Allegations of Greenwashing
Recent greenwashing dispute, which is garnering worldwide attention, is explored in an October 2017 post on the website Civil and Structural Engineering. While the Japanese government claims the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be the greenest in history, environmental groups challenge this assertion. They state that the Kengo Kuma designed, $1.5B Olympic stadium is being built using illegally sourced timber from Malaysia from virgin forests. Compounding the controversy is that the practice is in direct conflict with the sustainability sourcing codes established for construction of Olympic venues by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.
The Issues Involved in the Dispute
- In a 2014 publication, Trade in Illegal Timber: The Response in Japan, Dr Mari Momii states 12percent of the timber in Japan and 7 percent of country’s paper product exports use illegally sourced timber.
- Interpol, in its publication Uncovering the Risks of Corruption in the Forestry Sector, indicates that the global cost of corruption in forestry is $29B US. This supports the legal claims by the indigenous people in Malaysia.
The United States has its own issues with illegally sourced Asian timber as evidenced by a $13M fine levied against Lumber Liquidators by the Department of Justice. What does your firm do to avoid allegations of greenwashing? What do you recommend to do in this case?