Today we bring you research, in which the pledges of various companies are analyzed. Surprise! - all of them could be classified as Greenwashing...
Who should you believe?
Amazon and Mercedes-Benz want us to believe they're fighting global warming. Independent analysts dispute their climate pledges.
According to a blistering report released Monday by European environmental groups NewClimate Institute and Carbon Market Watch, 24 of the world's largest self-proclaimed green companies' climate commitments are "misleading" and "wholly insufficient" to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). These two dozen corporations have vowed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, but their collective promises cover only 36% of their greenhouse gas emissions due to their reliance on fake carbon offsets or failing to address broad swathes of their supply chain emissions. 17 companies have "inadequacy or utter lack" of net-zero planning.
Gilles Dufrasne, Carbon Market Watch's lead on global carbon markets, told a media conference last week that companies are launching a "active PR effort" to claim net-zero status. They're not promising that. Greenwashing.”
The analysis examined climate commitments from some of the major worldwide firms that are members of the Race to Zero campaign, a global endeavour that commits institutions to a viable route to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C. The researchers chose three firms from each of eight of the world's most polluting sectors, including automotives, electronics, and fashion retail. These companies have publicized their decarbonization pledges.
The report portrays corporate climate responsibilities as dismal. Based on variables like long-term emissions reduction, 15 of the 24 corporations' climate pledges were "low or very low integrity," eight were "moderate integrity," and zero were "high integrity." Amazon and American Airlines pledges use deceptive carbon credits from forests that won't store carbon for long. Others, like Carrefour's 2040 carbon neutrality goal, remove scope 3 emissions—emissions from products sold to customers. Carrefour's climate pollution is 98 percent from these pollutants.
Not all of them even created pledges
The car major Volkswagen and the meat giant JBS have no serious intentions to modify their business models or diversify away from emissions-intensive industries. Others, like PepsiCo and Nestlé, have hyped "insetting," which offsets supply chain emissions. (For instance, a firm could close a factory and claim it offsets emissions from another.) This is a "illegitimate" concept, according to the NewClimate Institute and Carbon Market Watch.
Maersk, the marine freight behemoth, was the only firm whose net-zero aim encompassed 90% or more of its emissions footprint, making its pledge "reasonable integrity." H&M, Stellantis, and Holcim's pledges covered 90% or more of their carbon emissions, although they were less transparent and reliable.
What the companies themselves say
Thirteen of the report's companies responded to comment inquiries. H&M, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen appreciated the report's recognition of their sustainability efforts and reiterated their carbon neutrality ambitions, along with Amazon, Ahold Delhaize, Foxconn, Samsung, and Thyssenkrupp. The report's approach misrepresented Carrefour and Walmart's carbon ambitions, they said. Maersk replied to criticism of its usage of biofuels by saying it regards them as a transition fuel until alternatives are available at scale and that its emissions targets are in line with third-party verification agencies. Stellantis and Microsoft declined comment.
Thomas Day, a NewClimate Institute expert on carbon markets and corporate climate action and coauthor of the report, stressed the necessity of analyzing firms' short-term emissions promises, many of which have been "inappropriately" verified by third parties. Almost all of the 24 companies analyzed by the NewClimate Institute have 2030 emissions reduction targets, and 16 of them have been certified by the Science-Based Targets Initiative, or SBTi, a respected certification body that lends credibility to private sector climate commitments, but their pledges only cover a median of about 15% of their total climate pollution between 2019 and 2030. In contrast, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends 43 and 48 percent worldwide emissions reductions in that time frame to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees C.
Day added, “These corporations may be members of voluntary efforts, but nearly all companies making these pledges are doing so in reaction to consumer and investor pressure.” “They're arguing to regulators that they don't need to be regulated.”
SBTi provided a seven-page technical statement in response to the request for a comment, outlining how it evaluates corporations' net-zero promises and how the report defines carbon offsets.
The NewClimate Institute's Eduardo Posada said the findings showed the need for better consumer protection legislation and new measures to stay up with corporate greenwashing. He suggested that, like "organic" food, decarbonization promises should be verified. Greenwashing is under consideration in the EU, while U.S. federal authorities are tightening emissions disclosure and misleading environmental marketing requirements.
Posada supported a prohibition on advertising words like "carbon neutral" and "net-zero," which can lead to ambiguity and bogus carbon offsets. He said, “The phrase is confusing in itself” and likely to be misunderstood by the public. “Zero's OK because it signifies total or near-total decarbonization, but the ‘net' is where all the gimmicks go. Companies can do lots on the net.”
He continued, “We believe it would be more constructive, more useful if firms genuinely committed to reductions instead of these slogans.”