Australia’s biggest corporate greenwashers revealed: new report
The majority of net zero commitments made by major Australian companies have been described as ‘corporate greenwash’, with new analysis from Greenpeace Australia Pacific finding that most of the highest-emitting companies in the ASX200 that have set net-zero targets either have no firm plans to end their use of coal to meet their target, or rely on the use of dubious carbon offsets.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s new report, Hero to zero: uncovering the truth of corporate Australia’s climate action claims, finds that some of the country’s high emitting corporations such as Woodside, Qantas and AGL, have set net zero targets without any commitment to reduce their use and production of fossil fuels, or to commit to switching to 100% renewable electricity.
Greenpeace’s analysis reveals that while over half of Australia’s 80 top emitting ASX200 companies (51%) have now set net zero or carbon neutral targets, just 16 companies had committed to reducing emissions from their operations by switching to 100% renewable electricity.
Dr Nikola Čašule, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Research and Investigations, said that corporate greenwash is delaying genuine emissions reduction progress.
“Carbon offset schemes enable companies like AGL, Australia’s biggest corporate climate polluter, Santos and Qantas to make impressive-sounding net-zero emissions and carbon neutral claims while doing nothing to reduce dangerous emissions from their use and production of fossil fuels,” he said.
“Many of the net zero targets from Australia’s biggest climate polluters are nothing but corporate greenwash, distracting from the urgent need for emissions reduction. A primary test of credibility is a commitment to reduce emissions from business operations by switching to 100% renewable electricity, but almost two thirds of companies in the ASX200 with net zero emissions targets do not pass the renewable test.”
“While protecting and restoring our rapidly declining forests is hugely important in its own right, land-based carbon offsets such as tree planting schemes cannot repair the climate damage caused by burning coal, oil and gas. Australian companies need to establish near-term 100% renewable electricity targets and phase out the use of fossil fuels, rather than relying on dodgy offsets.”
Report key findings
- Over half of Australia’s 80 top polluting ASX200 companies (51%) have now set net zero or carbon neutral targets, with the remaining 49% failing to set any emissions targets.
- A primary test of whether a business is serious about acting on climate change is whether it has adopted a binding commitment to using 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
- While 41 of the 80 highest emitting ASX200 companies have now set net zero targets, only 14 of those have set 100% renewable electricity goals. This means just under two thirds of companies with net zero emissions targets do not pass the renewable test.
- Net zero emissions targets by 2050 are inadequate for the scale and urgency of emissions reduction required by climate science, and companies and governments should be instead be focused on 2030 targets.
- Poorly regulated and monitored carbon offsetting schemes, such as overseas tree planting projects, are not a valid way for corporations to achieve their climate targets.
- In almost all circumstances, carbon offsetting is ineffective and no more than corporate ‘greenwashing’. The carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel consumption exceeds tenfold the amount that could be sequestered through land-based mitigation methods.
The International Energy Agency and the United Nations have both warned that Australia must phase out coal by 2030 to avoid extreme climate and economic consequences. With corporations making up almost 70% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace is urging Australian businesses to follow the lead set by some of Australia’s biggest companies, including Woolworths, Coles and Telstra, and commit to switching to 100% renewable electricity by 2025.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Fiona Ivits on 0487 003 872 or [email protected]