The climate pledges of 25 of the world’s largest companies will have only a limited impact on their actual greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report.
The Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor, conducted by NewClimate Institute in collaboration with Carbon Market Watch, evaluates 25 major companies—operating across different sectors and geographies—to determine the transparency and integrity of their headline climate pledges.
While these companies have made pledges to reach “net-zero” or “carbon neutral,” the reality is they have only committed to reducing their emissions by 40 percent on average, the report found.
None of the companies evaluated achieved the top rating of “high integrity” for their climate pledge. However, Maersk was given a “reasonable integrity” rating for its pledge to be net-zero by 2040, while Apple, Sony and Vodafone all received “moderate integrity” designations for their pledges. The remaining companies were rated as having “low integrity” or “very low integrity” pledges.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
The 13 companies that have backed their net-zero headline pledges with explicit emission reduction commitments commit, on average, to reduce their full value chain emissions from 2019 by only 40 percent, the report says. Meanwhile, the other 12 companies have no specific emissions reduction commitments for their net-zero target year. At least five of the companies evaluated would effectively only reduce their emissions by less than 15 percent, often by excluding downstream or upstream emissions in their value chain, according to the report.
“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,” said Gilles Dufrasne from Carbon Market Watch, in a statement. “Without more regulation, this will continue. We need governments and regulatory bodies to step up and put an end to this greenwashing trend.”
The Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor will be an annual publication.