Companies in East Asia are facing more inspection on their environmental credentials and net-zero emissions pledges.
In January, South Korea became the first nation in East Asia to draft a law that would fine firms for false or exaggerated green claims. South Korean oil company SK E&S was pressured by activists into withdrawing claims that it would produce carbon-free gas. Industry professionals are calling for tougher action against companies to target greenwashing in the Asia-Pacific region.
SK E&S has said it would produce “CO2-free” liquefied natural gas (LNG). In March 2022, South Korea’s Environment Ministry warned the company that it needed to base its claims on facts. The firm finally changed the message on its website to say the Barossa gas project off Australia’s northern coast was “low-carbon”.
South Korea is now preparing a greenwashing law. The draft greenwashing law, which includes fines of up to US dollars 2,300, is expected to be passed in the first half of 2023.
While the fine is small, the Bill is seen to be a major shift in approach from the government, which earlier tackled greenwashing by giving administrative guidance to oil refiners and steel giants.
Greenwashing is in the spotlight globally, with United Nations experts issuing a warning at COP27 climate summit last year about its prevalence, and new standards on environmental, social and governance credentials currently under consideration by an international body.