A U.N. report singles out so-called greenwashing -- misleading claims about progress on net-zero ambitions -- by saying its wrong to put a benevolent foot forward while continuing to invest in fossil fuels. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 8 (UPI) -- It's unreasonable, and certainly not helpful, that global actors can claim to be in favor of net-zero emissions while at the same time investing in new supplies of coal, crude oil and natural gas, a U.N. official said Tuesday.
U.N. officials are doubling down on their warnings of the dramatic impacts of climate change while at the same time wagging fingers at rich nations and investors for not doing enough to address the issue.
In conjunction with the COP27 climate summit at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheik, Catherine McKenna, the chairperson of a U.N.-backed group monitoring net-zero commitments, said so-called greenwashing -- making misleading claims about progress on climate issues -- needs to end.
"Non‑state actors cannot claim to be net zero while continuing to build or invest in new fossil fuel supply," she said. "Net zero is entirely incompatible with continued investment in fossil fuels."
An investigation by The Guardian newspaper found that the biggest oil and gas companies in the world are investing in what reporters described as a "carbon bomb" that could push global temperatures to the extreme.
The Guardian found that the world's largest oil companies are on pace to spend about $100 million per day for the rest of the decade on finding new sources of oil and natural gas. If the global temperature increase is to be limited to less than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, these companies should not pursue those ambitions.
McKenna wasn't just concerned about continued investments in fossil fuels, however. Credit markets for carbon lack integrity, companies only seem to be addressing low-hanging fruits rather than dealing with emissions across their entire value chain and its disingenuous for industry trade groups to continue lobbying in support of fuels that only contribute to the evolving climate crisis, she said.
A U.N. climate report finds there have been improvements in curbing global emissions, but it's not happening quick enough to limit the expected increase in the average world temperature. There's a global consensus toward cutting emissions by 45% by 2030, but emissions are instead expected to increase by close to 11% by then.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that, when it comes to greenwashing, it's time to do more than just talk the talk.
"We urgently need every business, investor, city, state and region to walk the talk on their net zero promises," he said. "We cannot afford slow movers, fake movers or any form of greenwashing."