Published 2 years ago.
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The first Climate Corporate Responsibility Monitor dissects the climate pledges of 25 of the world’s leading companies — and finds they fall well short of the action required to help the world avoid the effects of catastrophic climate change.
We’re seeing more ambitious corporate climate commitments than ever; and, since
climate action is now largely considered a business
the deluge isn’t likely to let up soon. With that is an ever-growing cache of
jargon and buzz speak, much of which is being thrown around without substantive
language and action to back it up. We at SB and our global community are
working to make sure that companies making these pledges have the knowledge and
they need to ensure they’re proceeding with
and not biting off more than they can feasibly
— but there is still a huge learning curve, even for companies that have led in
the sustainability space; and the devil is always in the
In keeping with these efforts comes the first Climate Corporate Responsibility
Monitor — a joint report released this week by NewClimate Institute and
Carbon Market Watch — which puts the climate
change-mitigation pledges made by 25 of the world’s largest corporations under a
microscope, and evaluates them against a set of transparent quantitative and
qualitative indicators. The report goes so far as to say that, not only are the
majority of the climate pledges full of loopholes and misleading claims that
harm their credibility; but based on the companies’ 2030 targets, we will likely
fall well short of the ambition required to align with the internationally
agreed goals of the Paris Agreement and avoid the most damaging effects of
“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,” says NewClimate’s Thomas Day, lead author of the
report. “Even companies that are doing relatively well exaggerate their
The report alleges that the companies’ net-zero pledges amount to future
emissions reductions, often decades from now, of an average of just 40 percent —
with many strategies relying heavily on carbon
and nebulous strategies such as
(offsetting emissions directly within a company’s own supply chain).
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The report also asserts that the companies evaluated are making misleading claims —
intentional or not — through a combination of loopholes, data omissions,
choosing start dates when their emissions were higher, creating their own
inaccurate measures of climate action, etc.
For the minority of the evaluated 25 companies, their headline pledges serve as a useful long-term vision, and are substantiated by specific short term emission reduction targets. While none of the pledges have a high degree of integrity overall, Maersk came out on top, with reasonable integrity; followed by Apple, Sony and Vodafone with moderate integrity.
Net-zero targets commit to reduce the analyzed companies’ aggregate
emissions by only 40 percent on average, not 100 percent as suggested by the
term “net zero.” Just 3 of the 25 companies – Maersk, Vodafone and
Deutsche Telekom — clearly commit to deep decarbonization of over 90
percent of their full value-chain emissions by their respective target years
of their headline pledges.
2030 targets fall well short of the ambition required to align with the
internationally agreed goals of the Paris Agreement and avoid the most
damaging effects of climate change.
All 10 companies claiming to have achieved carbon neutrality in 2021 did so
only for selected scopes, products, brands or company divisions. At least 7
of the 25 companies do not report on all value-chain (scope 3)
in public documentation — meaning, companies may fail to report on up to 98
percent of their emissions footprint.
Companies will be the innovators that find the solutions to the climate
crisis, but they must be subject to scrutiny and regulation Regulators
should not rely on consumer and shareholder pressure to drive corporate
action. Regulators and standard-setting initiatives must find ways to
distinguish and segregate climate leadership from greenwashing, to support
ambitious actors to innovate and accelerate decarbonization.
Based on the findings of the report, Carbon Market Watch sent a package of
to EU policymakers for promoting credible corporate sustainability leadership
and combatting greenwashing, including:
Governments must ban corporations from making “net zero” and “carbon
neutrality” claims today.
Companies must report absolute emission reductions separately from any
emission reductions financed outside of their value chain, rather than one
single aggregate number.
Companies must always provide consumers and investors with the full picture.
If companies compensate/offset their emissions, they must avoid double
counting emissions reductions already accounted for by a country towards the
achievement of its climate goals.
Companies should not compensate for fossil fuel
with carbon stored in non-permanent carbon sinks such as forests or soil, unless permanence can be independently verified.
Brand loyalty or market share gained by touting inaccurate climate-mitigation claims will serve businesses very little in a climate-changed economy in which many companies can no longer operate.
“Companies must face the reality of a changing planet. What seemed acceptable a decade ago is no longer enough,” said Carbon Market Watch's Gilles Dufrasne. “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.”
Published Feb 8, 2022 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET