Mumbai, Aug. 23: These Oscars are for acting green — and the nominees are not putting finishing touches to their acceptance speeches.
There is a growing sinking feeling that it will be business — and not environment — that will play a stellar role at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. So on the eve of the show, an environment group has announced the Greenwash Academy Awards — or the Green Oscars — for global corporate giants who talk eco-friendly but act otherwise.
The winners will be declared tomorrow at a glittering cocktail at Balalaika Hotel in Johannesburg, though it’s not certain how many nominees will attend to collect their “Oscars” with a dollar sign embossed on them.
Earthsummit.biz — the portal that is giving away the awards along with NGOs Corpwatch, Friends of the Earth International and Groundwork – thinks “Greenwash” is a handy word to describe this trendy corporate crime.
“Greenwash”, it says, “is disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. Derivative greenwashing.”
It is also defined as 1) The phenomenon of socially and environmentally destructive corporations attempting to preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty; 2) Environmental whitewash; 3) Hogwash.
The list of nominees is glamorous: In the Best Green Actor category are Shell, BP and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The awards in the other categories are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Makeup, Best Supporting Government and a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“At the Earth Summit in Johannesburg this summer, as at the Rio Earth Summit 10 years ago, business will be playing a leading role. Governments have invited companies to be their partners in delivering sustainable development. We believe the achievements of business speak for themselves,” says Earthsummit.biz.
“In the spirit of Johannesburg, we have developed the Green Oscars to show the world how hard business is working to achieve sustainable development.”
Shell — also nominated for Best Greenwash, Lifetime Achievement — seems to be the most popular Green Actor.
“They have an advertisement that highlights a woman working to protect a seemingly third world country from the destructive behaviour of oil companies. She is held up as some kind of an angel activist, educating these people and helping them and seeking a cleaner future for the environment and in the end, she climbs in a helicopter and it flies away bearing the Shell logo. We see that she is not fighting the oil companies, she is the oil company,” adds the portal.
NOTE: “We received many nominations for this company.”
Also nominated for the Lifetime Awards are World Bank, Monsanto and Exxon-Mobil.
Phillip Morris gets a Best Picture nomination. Reason: “The Philip Morris Kosovo Refugee Ad is brilliant – they spent more money making the ad than the cost of the macaroni and cheese they fed the starving victims of genocide.”
April (Asia Pacific Resources Limited) has been nominated for Best Make-up. Reason: April has a devastating environmental impact but claims its supply (which comes from Indonesian rainforests) is sound.
The nominees for Best Supporting Government are South Africa and United States. UNEP and the UN Secretary General have been nominated for Best Supporting UN Agencies.
Earthsummit.biz activists, busy with the final details, inform us that “in a last-minute threat to the Green Oscars, Ronald McBellamy, a representative of McUnicef, has informed news agencies that he will disrupt the ceremony unless his agency is added to the list of nominees. McUnicef is a joint venture of McDonalds and Unicef.”
Master of ceremonies Oscar Green says: “McDonalds and Unicef do make bedfellows of surpassing strangeness. However, their nomination came too late to be considered by the Academy.”
Another omission: there’s no Indian company on the rolls of honour.