“Carbon-neutrality” claims by 18 fossil companies over the last 13 months amount to “brazen greenwashing,” Carbon Market Watch concludes in a scathing new report.
The “net-zero pipe dreams” analysis names a number of big fossil companies like Shell, BP, Total, Occidental, Gazprom, Eni (Italy), Petronas (Canada), Petrochina, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), and Houston-based Cheniere, as well as major financial groups and traders like Macquarie, Mitsui & Co., Trafigura, Reliance Industries, and Mitsubishi subsidiary Diamond Gas International. Of the 18 claims, the Brussels-based think tank reported, 16 were for liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.
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“These firms expect the outside world to unquestioningly accept that their continued production and burning of fossil fuels is climate-compatible as long as they stick a ‘carbon neutral’ fig leaf over it,” the report says, adding that the firms ignore mitigation methods and fail to disclose details of the source and price of their credits.
Carbon Market Watch shreds that fig leaf, noting that none of the 18 claims it analyzed fulfilled the three baseline requirements essential to carbon-neutrality. The first is that the petitioner “must clearly demonstrate why and how its activities—i.e. the products and services it offers—are unavoidable, non-substitutable, and essential, and most crucially, aligned with pathways to limit global warming to below 1.5°C.”
Having proven itself both essential and already a climate citizen in good standing, a claimant to carbon-neutrality must then go on to reduce its full supply chain emissions as much as possible through measures like waste reduction and product substitution, then explain, fully and transparently, why remaining emissions are truly “unabatable.” Only after completing this critical third step may a company proceed to “offset” its remaining emissions in an effort to be “carbon-neutral.”
Carbon Market Watch declares the current fossil business model “climate incompatible,” then goes on to dissect the “tonne-for-tonne” pledge that fossil companies typically present as their golden offset ticket to carbon neutrality. Flagging the popularity of tree planting schemes in neutrality claims, the authors write that “given the long lifespan of CO2 in our atmosphere, ‘offsetting’ fossil fuel emissions through protecting or planting ecosystems/trees would logically necessitate that the ecosystems/trees representing the same amount of fossil carbon remain standing for 300 to 1,000 years.”
But “no company, project developer or government can realistically assure that outcome,” the organization observes, particularly as the climate crisis further destabilizes forest ecosystems through wildfire, drought, and insect infestation.
Yet fossil fuel companies have still proceeded to claim carbon neutrality in a manner that is “desperate and shameless,” lead author Jonathan Crook said in a release.
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