The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has taken a significant step in its fight against greenwashing by releasing a concise report detailing its 35 interventions from July 2022 to March 2023. Report 763 highlights ASIC's commitment to promoting fair and transparent markets and protecting retail investors and financial consumers from misleading claims about environmental, social, and governance credentials. ASIC Deputy Chair Karen Chester emphasises the importance of the report in informing the market about regulatory actions taken against greenwashing, with a focus on corrective outcomes and the prevention of deceptive practices.

The report's key findings and its implications for businesses are:

  • ASIC's interventions were driven by a clear objective: to counteract potentially misleading disclosures regarding green credentials. The report highlights the range of interventions employed by ASIC, which include securing timely corrections, issuing infringement notices, and initiating civil penalty proceedings.
  • Of the 35 interventions documented, 23 resulted in corrective disclosure outcomes. This indicates that companies were compelled to provide accurate and updated information, rectifying any misleading claims about their environmental, social, and governance practices.
  • ASIC's report reveals that in 11 instances, infringement notices were issued, delivering a clear message that greenwashing will not be tolerated. Such notices serve as a means of penalising companies engaging in misleading practices and further discouraging the prevalence of greenwashing.
  • In one significant case, ASIC commenced civil penalty proceedings, signalling its determination to hold accountable those who intentionally mislead consumers.
  • The report promotes transparency and educates the market on the nature of ASIC's interventions, including net zero statements, specific terms, fund labels, and investment exclusions.
  • Businesses are urged to consider the report and Information Sheet 271 to ensure their sustainability-related disclosures have reasonable grounds and comply with the law.

Looking ahead: ASIC's report serves as a clear indication that the fight against greenwashing is ongoing. ASIC continues its surveillance and enforcement efforts, and Report 763 sends a clear message: the era of greenwashing is being challenged, and transparency and compliance are the paths forward.