World's largest companies' net-zero targets 'lack integrity'

10th February 2022


Climate pledges from 25 of the world’s largest companies will deliver less than half of the emissions reductions needed to achieve their net-zero goals, new analysis suggests.

The findings from the NewClimate Institute suggest that pledges from the companies studied will deliver an average emissions reduction of 40%, rather than the 100% needed to support their net-zero claims.

Only shipping company Maersk’s net-zero pledge was evaluated as having “reasonable integrity”. Apple, Sony and Vodafone were rated as having “moderate” integrity, while 10 companies were rated as “low”, and the remaining 11 “very low”.

Overall, the researchers said that companies' headline climate pledges require detailed evaluation, and in the majority of cases, “cannot be taken at face value”. Many are undermined by “contentious plans” to reduce emissions elsewhere, “hidden critical information” and “accounting tricks”.

“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,” said Thomas Day of NewClimate Institute, lead author of the study.

“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.”

Amazon, Deutsche Telekom, Enel, GlaxoSmithKline, Google, Hitachi, IKEA, Vale, Volkswagen and Walmart were found to have climate pledges with low integrity.

The pledges of Accenture, BMW Group, Carrefour, CVS Health, Deutsche Post DHL, E.ON SE, JBS, Nestlé, Novartis, Saint-Gobain and Unilever had very low integrity.

“Misleading advertisements by companies have real impacts on consumers and policymakers,” said Gilles Dufrasne from Carbon Market Watch, which collaborated with NewClimate Institute for the research.

“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.”

The researchers discuss the findings in more detail here

Image credit: iStock

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