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Commercial, Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions  -  November 12, 2020

Wild West of net zero targeting called into question by new initiatives

Amid a growing number of net zero targets coming from large companies, there is an emerging need to set standards and common language in order for stakeholders to make sense of it all, a new study found.

BloombergNEF released Nov. 12 a report titled, “Corporate Net Zero Goals: Sustainability’s Cool Kids Table.” The report identified key issues in current corporate sustainability targets, like the fact that emissions covered, target year and what companies actually mean by terms like “carbon neutral” or “climate positive” vary too widely.

Companies and organizations like Microsoft, Amazon and the Science Based Targets initiative are leading new initiatives to standardize such net zero targets and establish a common framework for accepted ways to hit a net zero target. However, most current net zero targets would not meet the criteria of these initiatives.

Carbon credits are also called into questions. The report suggests that future accountability initiatives would only allow credits to count if they remove or sequester carbon, rather than just “offsetting” it.

The report also calls out the immense scale of some carbon targets coming from large corporations or oil companies around the world. It is estimated that nine of the leading utilities with net zero targets for 2050 have an average of 779 metric tons of Scope 1 and 2 CO2e to eliminate to reach their goals. On the other hand, there is 149 metric tons of CO2e of estimated commissioned carbon credit capacity that focuses on removals and would be permitted to use for hitting net zero targets. While many companies have set ambitious net zero targets for 2030, there is a lot of work that would need to be done in order for those targets to become reality.


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