Volkswagen, after manufacturing 600,000 “clean diesel” vehicle engines that were not nearly as environmentally friendly as advertised, will likely be heavily penalized. The announcement by the Department of Justice that they have filed federal suit against Volkswagen for violating the Clean Air Act will possibly cost the company as much as $18 billion. However, the regulation of greenwashing (intentional deceit about poor environmental performance) in the past has been largely ineffective. The Volkswagen case may leave a lasting precedence into how severe the federal government is treating greenwashing, but are Volkswagen’s potential penalties enough to scare firms to stop greenwashing?
The market for “green”, environmentally friendly products has never been higher and has grown at a rapid pace. The European Commission estimates that the global market for low-carbon environmental goods is €4.2 trillion (roughly $4.5 trillion) as of September 2015. 89% of DuPont Corporation’s customers agreed in a 2010 survey that products with environmental benefits can lead to a long-term market opportunity. Between 2000 and 2010, investment in “green” technologies increased, “from $7 billion a year to $154 billion.”
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