Australian Regulator Warns Firms on Greenhushing

In a speech on Monday June 5, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), chairman Joe Longo said the practice of “Greenhushing”, in which companies stop all voluntary disclosure of ESG information, should be seen as another form of greenwashing. 

During his address at The Australian Financial Review ESG Summit in Sydney, Longo said that ESG reporting is simply the next stage in a long series of important moves toward greater transparency and higher disclosure standards.

“These moves benefit us all, from the consumer to the investor, to companies themselves – to say nothing of the planet,” Longo added.

In response to ASIC’s scrutiny of greenwashing, the ASIC chairman said some companies may be tempted to cease all voluntary disclosure, chasing greenwashing with a little ‘greenhushing’.

He highlighted the practice by citing a report from the Swiss carbon finance consultancy, South Pole, that found nearly a quarter of the 1,200 companies surveyed have decided not to talk about their net-zero commitments at all.

South Pole’s report Longo said, sparked an intense discussion globally, with many condemning the policy of keeping quiet as simply another form of greenwashing.

“Domestically, we’ve observed some commentators and firms saying, in effect, we have such a good ESG policy, but we can’t say anything about it because the regulators won’t let us,” said Longo.

“The reality is the critics are right,” he added, saying this kind of response is just another form of greenwashing; an attempt to garner a ‘green halo’ effect without having to do the work.