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Following the current climate crisis, several corporations have been accused of “greenwashing,” or the deceptive technique of portraying products as environmentally friendly. In particular, the 2015 Volkswagen emission cheating scandal has raised questions about whether the company’s sustainability strategy was an actual effort to lessen its environmental impact (Zhang et al., 2021). Volkswagen’s actions proved beyond a doubt that the firm was more concerned with profit and reputation than actual sustainability.

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Volkswagen’s “clean diesel” campaign was later found to be a misleading marketing ploy despite being a crucial part of the company’s sustainability strategy. The company outfitted its diesel engines were with software to evade emissions tests, giving the impression that the vehicles were releasing less pollution than they actually were (Zhang et al., 2021). Thus, Volkswagen was able to pass off their diesel cars as environmentally friendly while they were causing air pollution. In 2017, the company admitted its wrongdoings and was forced to settle for $4.3 billion (Shepardson, 2021, para. 12). These activities also undermined the confidence of the public and customers, who thought the business was making sincere efforts to cut emissions and safeguard the environment. These facts speak in favor of the conclusion that Volkswagen’s actions can be considered greenwashing.

In conclusion, the Volkswagen emission cheating scandal and its misleading “clean diesel” campaign are clear examples of greenwashing. As the climate crisis continues to worsen, it is important for companies to be transparent and genuine in their efforts to reduce their environmental impact. It is unfortunate that corporations prefer to engage in deceptive marketing practices that undermine public trust and the efforts of genuinely sustainable companies.


Shepardson, D. (2021). VW to pay $3.5 million to resolve Illinois diesel lawsuit. Reuters. Web.

Zhang, M., Atwal, G., & Kaiser, M. (2021). Corporate social irresponsibility and stakeholder ecosystems: The case of Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal. Strategic Change, 30(1), 79–85. Web.

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