Radar | Dec 10,2018
Sep 24 , 2022
By Catherine McKenna ( is the former Canadian minister of environment and climate change. )
Walking down a Toronto street recently I saw an ad touting a fossil-fuel company’s net-zero credentials. But to see such belief-straining claims, I would not even need to leave my house.
According to a study by the Guardian and InfluenceMap, such ads are all over Google. Ads for oil giant Shell, for example, appeared on 86pc of searches for “net zero,” with many promoting the company’s pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Are corporations finally waking up to the urgency of the climate crisis, or is this just more greenwashing?
One thing is certain: the climate crisis is escalating fast. California is enduring record-breaking heat waves. A third of Pakistan is underwater. China is suffering a withering drought, which may have global ramifications. And that is just what is happening right now. From cold snaps in Texas to wildfires in Europe, climate change has become impossible to ignore.
Climate action has come a long way since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015. Notably, net zero has gone mainstream, with some 90pc of global GDP now covered by net-zero targets. And it is not just governments that have adopted them; many of the world’s biggest companies have done so, too, motivated by a combination of business interest, investor expectations, and consumer pressure.
But if corporations – including fossil-fuel companies – are now “climate leaders,” fully and loudly committed to the net-zero cause, why are emissions still rising? A look at the history of climate action reveals the answer.
Over the last 20 years, a diverse array of climate initiatives has sought to persuade businesses and investors to accept the idea of setting climate-related targets, cutting emissions, and then setting even more ambitious targets. These initiatives have had one thing in common: all have been voluntary.
As anyone who has ever broken a New Year’s resolution knows firsthand, a promise made is not always a promise kept. If someone says they will achieve net zero, how can we be sure that they are taking the steps needed to deliver? Right now, we cannot.
This has enabled “climate coasting,” with companies marketing themselves as environmentally conscious while continuing with business as usual, or close to it. As it stands, only one in three corporate net-zero plans cover the company’s full carbon footprint, including that of its supply chain. And not one of the world’s biggest corporate polluters has fully explained how it plans to achieve net-zero emissions.
As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently said, “The world is in a race against time, and we cannot afford slow movers, fake movers, or any form of greenwashing.”
These are the problems the High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Emissions Commitments, which I chair, is meant to solve. We are an independent, diverse group of experts determined to provide science-based recommendations for achieving the goal so many governments and companies have embraced.
Our work is just beginning, but three things are already clear. First, a pledge without a plan is meaningless. Companies must align their business strategies with their commitments, take ambitious action, and start delivering progress immediately. And this does not mean fudging the numbers with questionable offsets; the only credible way to achieve net zero is to slash emissions.
To support this effort, the High-Level Expert Group will define what it will take to achieve net-zero emissions. This includes establishing clear criteria for credible net-zero plans that account for issues of equity and climate justice. Regional and sectoral standard-setters can then adapt our criteria, thereby ensuring consistency and comparability.
Second, voluntary schemes are not enough. We do not need New Year’s resolutions; we need new business plans. Regulation will be essential here, both to ensure that voluntary climate roadmaps are replaced by mandatory strategies and to level the playing field. A central objective of the High-Level Expert Group is to map the needed regulations.
Finally, accountability is essential. When companies, banks, investors, cities, and regions make net-zero commitments, we must be able to trust them. Fair rules of engagement will help. But governments, corporations, and financiers must also embrace radical transparency. Progress will be easy to spot: investment in clean energy will supersede investment in fossil fuels, and emissions will fall.
Already, our expert group has engaged more than 800 groups, met with thousands of people, and received almost 300 submissions detailing how net-zero commitments can be improved – a clear indication of how keen stakeholders are to get this right. Success would not only give us a shot at stabilising the climate; it would bring vast economic opportunities. According to McKinsey, growing demand for net-zero offerings could generate more than 12 trillion dollars in sales annually by 2030.
Last year, I left politics to dedicate my time to the two things that mattered most to me: my kids and climate change. The two priorities are deeply interconnected. If we are to avoid a future where our children are buying “net-zero” bacon between floods and fires, we must close the gap between the promises we hear and the action we need.
PUBLISHED ON Sep 24,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1169]
Radar | Dec 10,2018
Radar | Aug 01,2020
Radar | Jul 20,2019
Radar | Feb 23,2019
Radar | Aug 17,2019
Radar | Jun 04,2022
Fortune News | Oct 15,2022
Radar | Apr 06,2019
Fortune News | Aug 07,2021
Viewpoints | Sep 19,2020
Photo Gallery | 69310 Views | May 06,2019
Photo Gallery | 61188 Views | Apr 26,2019
Fortune News | 53043 Views | Jul 18,2020
Fortune News | 52832 Views | Sep 01,2021
Commentaries | Jun 03,2023
Life Matters | Jun 05,2023
My Opinion | Jun 03,2023
Sunday with Eden | Jun 03,2023
Dec 24 , 2022
Biniam Mikru heads the department of cabinet affairs under Mayor Adanech Abiebie. But...
Jul 2 , 2022 . By RUTH TAYE
On a rainy afternoon last week, a coffee processing facility in the capital's Akaki-Qality District was abuzz with activ...
Nov 27 , 2021
Against my will, I have witnessed the most terrible defeat of reason and the most sa...
Nov 13 , 2021
Plans and reality do not always gel. They rarely do in a fast-moving world. Every act...
In the animating landscape of Ethiopia's economic reality, an increasingly fervent tr...
Leaders of the National Election Board are in a charm offensive mood, of a sort. Last week, they organised a rare tour for members of the me...
When the country's most senior diplomats and envoys return back to their posts after two-week debriefings, they leave behind a point or two...
At the hub of Ethiopia's fiscal planning on King George VI Street, the country's budg...
May 27 , 2023
Tauted as a somnolent giant, Ethiopia's financial scene now stirs, roused by favourab...
May 20 , 2023
The pungent irony wafting from Pretoria last week was hard to miss. Cyril Ramaphosa,...
May 13 , 2023
In March this year, Kamala Harris, the United States Vice President, visited Ghana, T...
I am acquainted with several young parents who decided to adopt children from non-governmental institutions. The process involved a six-m...
I was in the front seat during a recent car ride and promptly fastened my seatbelt. I unbuckled it upon reaching the destination but th...
Jun 6 , 2023 . By AKSAH ITALO
The tripartite Labour Advisory Board constituting labour, employers and authorities r...
Jun 3 , 2023 . By BERSABEH GEBRE
Addis Abeba's City Administration resumed land auctions after a five-year lull. The a...
Jun 3 , 2023 . By BERSABEH GEBRE
A federal agency invitation to procure a large volume of edible oil found itself with...
Jun 3 , 2023 . By AKSAH ITALO
Public events in the capital foresee a regulatory framework as the Addis Abeba Mayor...
Or see contact page