UN experts set limits on corporate greenwashing | COP27

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UN experts set limits on corporate greenwashing | COP27

Demonstrators protest in Washington against the greenwashing practiced by oil companies which claim to be committed to the fight against climate change.

< p class="e-p">No new fossil fuel investments, no cheap emissions 'offset', no deforestation: UN experts on Tuesday drew 'red lines' against greenwashing (< em>greenwashing) from private actors who make empty promises of carbon neutrality.

More and more companies, investors, cities, regions are promising to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of the century. Commitments often with loopholes large enough to pass a diesel tank through them, commented UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, welcoming the work of the group of experts he had launched at the last COP.

“We must only have no tolerance for greenwashing on carbon neutrality. »

— Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

The 18 experts have developed in a few months a guide to assess the degree of credibility of non-state actors who are ;commit to carbon neutrality.

A key condition for this credibility is to move away from environmentally destructive activities, in particular anything that can lead to deforestation, and gradually move away from fossil fuels responsible for global warming.

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Cities, regions, financial bodies and companies cannot claim carbon neutrality while continuing to build or invest in new sources of fossil fuels, argues the report, which stresses that the two are incompatible.

All these commitments must indeed respect the scenarios of the UN climate experts (IPCC) who estimate that to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the use of coal without carbon capture (a technology non-mature on a large scale) should be completely stopped and those of oil and gas reduced by 60% and 70%, respectively, by 2050 compared to the level of 2019.

More and more voices are being raised against greenwashing.

At a time when so-called carbon-neutral banks are pouring billions into new fossil fuel projects, it is particularly encouraging that the group is putting things right, reacted Lucie Pinson, of the NGO Reclaim Finance.

Using bogus carbon neutrality pledges to cover massive fossil fuel expansions is wrong, Guterres has argued. This attempt at a toxic cover-up could knock the world off the climate cliff. This sham must end.

If you are a company in the fossil fuel sector, you are likely to have to rethink the core of your model, comments a senior UN official, noting that some have started their transition to renewables.< /p>

Another sine qua non for a credible objective of carbon neutrality is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. And not offset them by buying carbon credits equivalent to a weight of CO2, for example by financing reforestation projects or the development of renewable energies.

You cannot simply buy carbon credits that are cheap and sometimes lack integrity, Catherine McKenna, chair of the expert group, told AFP.

Protesters paint the letters of the words 'tar sands' green outside British Petroleum's Canadian headquarters in Calgary.

“If you're hoping for an A, just coming to class isn't enough. You get an A for working and you can't pay someone else to do it for you. »

— Catherine McKenna, chair of the UN-mandated group of experts

The report also believes that long-term pledges must be accompanied by a clear plan, with objectives for each five-year period.

They must also cover all the activities of a company: direct activities, consumption of electricity and heat, but also all indirect emissions upstream and downstream of production, up to the ;gasoline consumed by motorists for an oil company.

Today, around 90% of the world's GDP is covered by carbon neutral pledges, according to the Net Action Tracker platform developed by several research centers.

But many of these promises do not live up to expectations and others do not even provide data, stresses Catherine McKenna.

So the message sent to CEOs or mayors is clear, stresses Antonio Guterres: Meet these standards and revise your guidelines now, at the latest by COP28 in a an.

He also called on governments to build a regulatory framework from these recommendations.

Today's announcement is a watershed moment for the business lobby that has long stood in the way of government action. governments, said Will Aitchison of the Influence Map think tank.

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