The fossil fuel company’s net zero plans “largely pointless”, the report says

  • 75 of the largest have now committed to reaching net zero
  • Most do not cover or are not transparent about Scope 3 emissions

LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) – The number of fossil fuel companies setting net zero emissions targets has surged in the past year, but most fail to address key concerns, making them “largely meaningless”, a report showed Monday.

About 75 of the world’s largest 112 fossil fuel companies have now committed to reaching net zero – the point at which greenhouse gas emissions are offset by deep cuts in production elsewhere and methods to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide.

That’s up from just 51 a year ago, according to the assessment of publicly available data by the Net Zero Tracker, run in part by the UK-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and the University of Oxford.

But most targets do not fully cover or lack transparency about Scope 3 emissions – which include the use of a company’s products, the biggest source of emissions for fossil fuel companies – or do not include short-term reduction plans, the report added.

That made them “largely meaningless,” it said. The report also found that none of the fossil fuel companies made the necessary commitments to move away from the extraction or production of fossil fuels.

As it stands, around 4,000 countries, states, regions, cities and companies globally have committed to net zero. In November last year, the UN published a report on what a ‘good’ net-zero strategy should look like to avoid greenwashing.

“We have yet to see a big move from fossil fuel companies or other companies to meet these (guidelines), so there is still a lot of work to be done to get up to that level,” said Thomas Hale of the University of Oxford. who co-authored the report.

Daisy Streatfield, sustainability director at global asset manager Ninety One, said “credible plans and meaningful implementation are not going to happen overnight”, with many companies doing a better job than national governments.

A study published last week in the journal Science found that about 90% of countries’ net-zero targets were unlikely to be achieved.

Reporting by Gloria Dickie and Simon Jessop in London; Editing by Jan Harvey

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Gloria Dickie

Thomson Reuters

Gloria Dickie reports on climate and environmental issues for Reuters. She is based in London. Her interests include biodiversity loss, arctic science, the cryosphere, international climate diplomacy, climate change and public health, and human-wildlife conflict. She previously worked as a freelance environmental journalist for 7 years, writing for publications such as the New York Times, Guardian, Scientific American and Wired magazine. Dickie was a finalist in 2022 for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists in the international reporting category for his climate reporting from Svalbard. She is also the author of Eight Bears: Mythic Past and Imperiled Future (WW Norton, 2023).

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