Companies that claim a commitment to carbon neutrality they cannot continue to invest in fuels of fossil originnor cause deforestation, nor “compensate” emissions instead of reducing them, assured a report by UN experts on Tuesday.
“Carbon neutrality is totally incompatible with sustained investment in fossil fuels“explained the report, commissioned by the UN secretary general, Antonio Gutierres, who called for an end to the “toxic deception” that these practices entail.
It is very easy to announce that you are going to be carbon neutral by 2050. But you have to deliver, and what we have seen is that there is not enough action
The experts thus want to put a limit to the so-called “green image washing” (“greenwashing“) that employ companies, cities and countries. According to the decarbonization promises of recent months, 90% of the global economy is covered by some type of carbon neutrality promise, according to the specialized website Net Zero Tracker.
“It’s very easy to announce that you’re going to be carbon neutral by 2050. But you have to deliver, and what we’ve seen is not enough action,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former Environment and Climate Change Minister and head of the panel. of experts. “We have to do two things to get to zero carbon: drastically cut emissions” of greenhouse gases, “and invest in clean energy,” she told AFP.
Right now, he said, it is “extremely difficult” to properly assess whether companies are cutting emissions, and called for greater transparency.
Promises and long-term plans
The report makes several recommendations, including that governments apply binding regulation. Another central recommendation of the panel is that carbon neutrality plans be aligned with the ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to +1.5ºC by the end of the century, compared to the pre-industrial era.
To achieve this, UN scientists estimate that it is necessary to cut global emissions in half by 2030. In recent times there has been widespread concern that many companies do not cut emissions according to scientific recommendations, or else they claim to be offsetting their growing pollution by buying “credits” or announcing reforestation or renewable energy development plans.
“You can’t just buy cheap carbon credits” which often lack “integrity”, Catherine McKenna stresses. “If you want to get a 10, it’s not enough to come to class. You get a 10 by working, what you can’t do is pay someone else to do it, you have to do it yourself,” she emphasized.
The report adds that long-term promises must be accompanied by precise plans, with targets every five years. Carbon credits should not be used to offset emissions until a company demonstrates that it has done everything possible to cut its pollution in line with the 1.5°C target.
“Too often too many companies continue to rely on business models that end up destroying natural ecosystems,” said Arunabha Ghosh of the Council on Energy Environment and Water think tank. Companies that commit to this ambitious goal should also not lobby against climate action, the report added.
In September, a report by another non-governmental organization, CDP, revealed that the decarbonization plans of large companies in countries belonging to the G7 would contribute to the planet reaching a temperature of 2.7 ºC by the end of the century.
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