UN experts call for crackdown on greenwashing of net zero pledges | Policeman 27:00

UN experts call for crackdown on greenwashing of net zero pledges | Policeman 27:00

A UN panel set up to combat the greenwashing of net zero pledges by industry and government has called for “red lines” to end support for new fossil fuel exploration and overuse of carbon offsets.

“High Level Expert Group” established in March by UN Secretary General Antonio GuterresTo advise on rules to improve the integrity and transparency of net zero commitments by industry, regions and cities, said climate plans must include deep reductions in greenhouse gases by 2030 and not delay action until 2050.

It emphasizes that serious commitments must prioritize immediate reductions in absolute emissions, using carbon offsets, an often controversial practice that allows companies and governments to pay for reductions elsewhere instead of reducing their own pollution; all. Rules were needed to ensure that the reports were of high quality and came from a reliable and verifiable source, the group said.

The panel was created after widespread concern about greenwashing, including claims by major fossil fuel companies that they aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 while supporting new coal, oil and gas developments and relying heavily on offsets.

a Guardians investigation this year found that oil and gas companies, including some with net zero commitments, were still planning massive new developments that would take the world well beyond the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. In Australia, they include Woodside, which has taken over BHP’s global oil assets and is preparing to open new fields off the northwest coast.

Net-zero plans already in place have been criticized for being vague, delaying action until it’s too late, and relying too heavily on cuts required from programs unrelated to nature-based offsets, such as tree planting and supporting forest growth. While offsets have been widely supported by governments and industry as a cheaper way to reduce pollution than outright cuts, experts say they should only be used after businesses or regional or local authorities have met short- and medium-term targets.

Publication of the report h Policeman 27:00 At the Sharm el-Sheikh climate conference, expert panel chair Catherine McKenna, a former Canadian climate minister, said net zero pledges should be “about emissions reductions, not corners.”

“At this point the planet cannot afford delays, excuses or more greenwashing,” he said.

Panel member Bill Hare, a climate scientist and chief executive of Climate Analytics, said no one could ignore the need for “immediate and drastic reductions in emissions.”

“If industry, financial institutions, cities and counties mean what they say in their net zero pledges, they will accept those recommendations,” he said. “If fossil fuel companies think they can expand production under a net zero target, they should think again.”

Experts say non-state actors should submit a public report every year, backing up their claims with verifiable information, to prevent dishonest climate accounting. They called for voluntary net-zero obligations on large corporate emitters to be replaced by regulated requirements.

Guterres said: “A growing number of governments and [companies] they promise to be carbon-free, and that’s good news. The problem is that these net zero obligation criteria and standards have varying levels of stringency and loopholes that are wide enough to drive a diesel truck,” he said. “We should have zero tolerance for net zero greenwashing.”

The Secretary General also had strong words for fossil fuel companies. “So-called ‘net-zero promises’ that exclude core products [coal, oil, gas] are poisoning our planet. The use of false promises of net zero to hide the massive expansion of fossil fuels is reprehensible. This toxic coating could push our world over a climate cliff.”

The report was championed by Laurents Toubiana, executive director of the European Climate Fund and credited as one of the architects of the Paris Agreement as France’s environment minister. He said meeting that deal required “drawing a clear line between true net zero — what that actually means and requires, and what is just greening.”

“We can’t afford creative accounting,” he said. “I call on all actors, including cities, regions, businesses, investors, alliances, countries and regulators, to take these recommendations seriously and incorporate them as a matter of urgency.”

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