• Contested new report finds large corporations’ net-zero targets heavily reliant on carbon offsetting

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

A report by climate non-governmental organisations NewClimate Institute and Carbon Market Watch has rated the integrity of the climate goals of 25 large companies that have set net-zero targets, raising some interesting findings.

The Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor report found that the average across the companies in absolute emissions cuts to meet net-zero targets was only 40%, though this was a product of roughly half of the companies not having any absolute emissions-reduction goal for their “net zero” target year. Still, this would mean an enormous reliance on carbon offsetting, and raises the prospect of a huge shortage of such offsets, a corresponding ballooning of prices, and a subsequent re-evaluation of absolute emissions reduction options.

Criticism of the report came from a number of the companies, with the main point of contention being a rather big one – that the parameters used to assess targets did not correspond to the parameters of the frameworks most commonly used by industry. For instance, German power utility Eon’s 100% emissions reduction target by 2050 excludes ~40% of the power it produces, as this is sold to wholesalers, and according to Eon, its own counting of such emissions would mean they would end up being double-counted by common industry standards.

The companies have also pointed to previous positive assessments of their targets by organisations such as the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).  The SBTi itself has welcomed the Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor report, saying it was in the process of reviewing its own methodology, especially in relation to Scope 3 emissions, those that are the indirect product of its operations (excluding energy bought). There is sure to be more debate as to the quality of companies’ net-zero targets in the coming years.