As the world struggles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve mitigation targets, greenwashing is a factor being recognised as one that threatens to undermine the global effort towards Net Zero.

Simply put greenwashing is when an entity spends a lot of its money and energy in proclaiming to be environment compliant than on actually minimising its environment footprint. It is an exercise to hoodwink consumers or stakeholders that an organisation is offering a green product or service.

Net zero commitments

In a report to the UN Secretary-General at the COP27 last week, the 17-member High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities flagged the need for industry, financial institutions, cities and regions “to bring integrity to net zero commitments and to support a global, equitable transition to a sustainable future.”

In a strongly worded statement Catherine McKenna, chair of the UN-appointed expert group and former Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said, “This is about cutting emissions, not corners. Our roadmap provides clear standards and criteria that must be followed when developing net zero commitments. Right now, the planet cannot afford delays, excuses, or more greenwashing.”

Some of the key recommendations of the HLEG includes an advisory to companies and regions setting net zero target not to support exploration of new fossil fuel supplies and ensure that by 2025 any removal of forests for land use be discontinued.

The HLEG also underscored that there should be no cheating using offsets. Buying certificates that ‘offset’ emissions instead of reducing emissions must be saved for the final years of net zero, and if used must be from a reliable and verifiable source.

Need of the hour

Net zero, it noted, cannot be achieved globally without allocation of funds to developing countries and the plans of companies and regions must reflect this commitment.

It was stressed that climate plans and detailed annual progress reports must be submitted regularly and subjected to independent and credible audit. In addition to this, the HLEG recommended that all lobbying must be for positive climate action and not against it. And executive pay and capital expenditure should be linked to net zero plans.

A tall order for entities if taken seriously. But it could make a substantial difference. It will also enable ordinary people to separate the wheat from the chaff when making personal choices.

social-fb COMMENT NOW