A new report accuses more than half of Australia’s most polluting companies of setting net zero emissions targets without firm plans to end their use of coal or commit to 100% renewable electricity.
Greenpeace, the environmental NGO, said companies are “laundering” their net zero or carbon neutral targets in its Hero to Zero: Uncovering the Truth from Australian Business Climate Actions Report.
While just over half of Australia’s 80 highest-emitting ASX200 companies have now set net zero or carbon-neutral targets, only 16 plan to reduce operational emissions by switching to clean energy rather than to fossil fuels, Greenpeace Australia Pacific analysis showed.
The report specifically pointed to companies such as Qantas, Woodside Petroleum and AGL Energy that it said are making net zero claims without reducing emissions from their use and production of fossil fuels.
Carbon offset programs are not only ineffective, Greenpeace said, but misleading.
He called on Australian companies to follow the lead of companies like Woolworths, Coles and Telstra who have pledged to switch to 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
Dr Nikola Čašule, head of research and investigations at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said the analysis showed how corporate “green laundering” was being used to mask the impacts of corporate emissions targets.
“While protecting and restoring our rapidly declining forests is extremely important in and of itself, terrestrial carbon offsets such as tree planting programs cannot repair the climate damage caused by burning coal, oil. and gas, ”Čašule said.
Australian companies under pressure
Australian businesses are under pressure over climate change as institutional investors like Climate Action 100+, backed by national pension funds, use their power to hold companies to account.
According to a study by the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), which counts among its members some of the largest institutional investors and pension funds in Australia and New Zealand, major investors are increasingly flocking to targets for net zero emissions by 2050.
The results of its annual survey published at the end of August showed that more than 40% of investors surveyed are targeting zero net emissions by 2050 across their entire portfolio, up from 27% in 2020.
While many Australian companies have pledged to achieve net zero targets, the achievement of this intention remains uncertain.
While many countries and companies have committed to achieving net zero goals by 2050 or earlier, many Australian companies’ commitments do not include all areas of their business.
BHP, for example, set a target of net zero emissions by 2050 for both its direct suppliers and shippers of its products, but said on Tuesday it would not extend the target to its steel customers, claiming that there were still major hurdles when it came to the steel industry, including technological gaps.
Coal’s role in the long-term energy mix has been questioned by the International Energy Agency, which said in May that no new coal mines, oil or gas fields should be opened. if the world wants to achieve net zero emissions. by 2050.
A United Nations calendar also said Australia has less than 10 years to shut down coal mines and find new jobs for workers as pressure builds for the nation to cut greenhouse gas emissions. tight.