'Green business' gets more real, but consumers still wary

A couple of recently released studies indicate the 'greening of business' is not just bluster, but consumers still need some convincing.

There is real money behind the claims of corporations "going green," but consumers still need convincing that it's more than just feel-good PR, a couple of recently released studies show.

Nearly every day seems to bring fresh news of corporations boosting their commitment to the environment, either through internal energy-efficiency measures or plans to introduce green tech products.

In a report released on Wednesday called the State of Green Business, consultant and writer Joel Makower and his colleagues from Greener World Media say that businesses are making progress in addressing environmental problems, such as climate change or toxic waste.

But those efforts don't appear to be enough to sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions or meet other environmental targets.

"Companies are getting cleaner and more efficient, but only incrementally, and many of the gains are offset by the ever-growing economy. So, while greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of economic activity may be dropping, the growing economy means those emissions are largely unchanged," Makower wrote.

Still, more and more companies are recognizing that pursuing environmentally aware policies does not necessarily conflict with a corporation's financial goals, he said.

Separately, Allianz Global Investors published another in a steady stream of reports from investment firms singling out business opportunities from climate change.

Allianz, however, surveyed consumers as well and found that there is a strong desire to find socially or environmentally conscious ways to invest.

Out of over 1,000 investors surveyed, almost half said they were likely to invest in a company or mutual fund with an environmental component to it. Seventeen percent said they already have made that sort of investment.

But the survey also uncovered some mistrust of corporations' claims. Seventy-eight percent said that most companies today are choosing to focus on environmental issues for public relations, rather than financial, value.

The State of Green Business study also noted that " greenwashing " has become concern among consumers

Yet despite any consumer skepticism, businesses' commitments to green technology and products are expected to rise, as they seek to capitalize on environmental problems and appeal to consumers' desire for greener products.

"Environmental products and services are moving from the realm of corporate social responsibility or niche activities to core businesses that will generate significant future revenue stream," Bozena Jankowska, lead portfolio manager of the Allianz RCM Global EcoTrends Fund, said in a statement.

 

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