Climate pledges made by the world’s largest companies will fail to reduce their carbon emissions to net zero, new analysis has revealed.
The findings of the Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor, conducted by NewClimate Institute in collaboration with Carbon Market Watch, shows emissions from 25 major companies will only be reduced by 40% and not the 100% as suggested by the carbon neutral claims.
The report – which will be published in an annual basis – evaluated the 25 businesses, including Apple, Deutsche Post DHL, Saint-Gobain, Sony and Vodafone, to determine the transparency and integrity of their headline climate pledges. It found that in the majority of cases they be taken at face value.
Shipping giant Maersk came out top and was the only company to have its net zero pledge evaluated as having “reasonable integrity”, whilst three were deemed to be of “moderate” integrity, ten as “low” and the remaining 12 were rated as having “very low” integrity.
Offsetting approaches were a major factor in undermining carbon target integrity, with 24 of 25 companies likely to rely on offsetting credits, of varying quality. At least two thirds of the companies rely on removals from forests and other biological activities, which can easily be reversed by, for example, a forest fire.
Lead author of the study Thomas Day, of NewClimate Institute, commented of the findings: “We set out to uncover as many replicable good practices as possible, but we were frankly surprised and disappointed at the overall integrity of the companies’ claims. As pressure on companies to act on climate change rises, their ambitious-sounding headline claims all too often lack real substance, which can mislead both consumers and the regulators that are core to guiding their strategic direction. Even companies that are doing relatively well exaggerate their actions.”
Gilles Dufrasne, from Carbon Market Watch, added: “Misleading advertisements by companies have real impacts on consumers and policymakers. We’re fooled into believing that these companies are taking sufficient action, when the reality is far from it. Without more regulation, this will continue. We need governments and regulatory bodies to step up and put an end to this greenwashing trend. Companies must face the reality of a changing planet. What seemed acceptable a decade ago is no longer enough. Setting vague targets will get us nowhere without real action, and can be worse than doing nothing if it misleads the public. Countries have shown that we need a fresh start when adopting the Paris Agreement, and companies need to reflect this in their own actions.”