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The WHO is asking countries to stop tobacco companies that are trying to ruin their image as a green industry.

Latest NewsThe WHO is asking countries to stop tobacco companies that are trying to ruin their image as a green industry.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has asked all the world’s governments to ban the greenwashing tobacco multinationals are doing to try and repair their battered public image. Contrary to the industry’s “green” claims, the WHO has warned that not only is tobacco harmful to human health (an estimated eight million people die each year from tobacco-related illnesses), but it also has a significant impact on the environment and fuels. changing of the climate. But this “environmental degradation” is often ignored by politicians, as Rüdiger Kretsch recalled on Thursday. WHO Director for Health Promotion.

The organization stressed that governments have a tool in their hands to end this whitewashing practice that underpins corporate social responsibility and multinational marketing campaigns in the sector: the WHO Framework Agreement on Tobacco Control. This international agreement, signed in 2003 within the framework of the UN, already implies a ban on tobacco advertising.

WHO’s message to governments was made at a workshop organized jointly with STOP, the international tobacco industry control body. “This is a very dangerous industry that is not only killing people but the planet,” said Andy Rowell, a member of STOP and the University of Bath Tobacco Control Research Group. Rowell focused, among other things, on the contribution of tobacco companies to climate change, which is not usually related to the problem of global warming.

But, according to a report prepared for this WHO and STOP workshop, each year tobacco companies are responsible for 80 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. “The industry is trying to say that it is changing and becoming more resilient,” Rowell added. “But from production to cigarette butts, they have an impact.” According to a joint report by the two organizations, more than 22 billion cubic meters of water is used to produce the six billion cigarettes produced each year, often in countries where this resource is already scarce. “The 22 billion cubic meters of water is more than two and a half times the amount of water in the United Kingdom,” explained Adriana Blanco, head of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. “We are not talking about a small contribution to the problem, but a very large one,” Blanco warned, speaking of how the tobacco industry contributes to environmental degradation. This environmental impact is “an additional reason to quit smoking,” said Dr Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Division of Environment and Public Health.

green accreditations

“The tobacco industry has tried to whitewash its reputation with programs such as beach cleanups and funding for environmental and disaster relief organizations,” the report warns. “This practice is especially prevalent in low- and middle-income countries that tobacco companies target to increase sales and profits,” the study adds. “This industry is causing irreparable damage to the health of smokers, non-smokers and farmers.”

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But despite warnings, greenwashing campaigns are still allowed. The WHO did not stop at asking governments to veto the practice. He also calls out environmental and sustainability accreditation organizations to stop endorsing “industry greenwashing” and awarding “tobacco industry awards.” The report reminds that there are more than 600 different corporate social responsibility schemes around the world that are not harmonized, so tobacco companies can choose the model that will show them the most environmentally friendly of all. In addition, they can provide the most relevant sustainability data. And when they go down the drain for an accreditation body, they simply refuse it. This is exactly what happened to British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International (JTI), who decided to drop the CDP Forestry rating system after receiving poor ratings in 2017, according to a report released Thursday.

Additional Information

The battle against greenwashing or green face washing could be one of the most decisive in the coming years as public awareness of the degradation of the planet’s environment due to human actions rises. It is rare that a large company, no matter how dirty its business, does not promise to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century. But after these announcements, which are sometimes made under pressure from their investors, in many cases there are no firm or credible plans.

The situation is such that UN Secretary General António Guterres has created a group of international experts who will try to combat this practice. The goal is for these professionals to set minimum criteria to be able to evaluate the climate promises of so-called non-state actors, including companies.

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Source: elpais.com

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