A new study claims 58% of corporate giants, including Chevron, did not align their lobbying initiatives with emerging climate policies around the world, while publicly claiming to fully support the Paris Climate Agreement to shrink global warming through the next century. File photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Pledges by the world's largest corporations to fight climate change frequently do not align with their lobbying efforts, with more than half of companies at risk of engaging in misleading practices known as "net zero greenwashing," according to a new report.
The study by the London-based research center InfluenceMap, titled "Net Zero Greenwash: The Gap Between Corporate Commitments and their Policy Engagement," released on Wednesday, examined the lobbying activities of nearly 300 of the largest public companies around the world while exposing efforts by airlines, and gas, energy, and manufacturing companies to sidestep accountability.
The results showed 58% of corporate giants did not align their influence initiatives with emerging climate policies, while publicly claiming to fully support the Paris Climate Agreement to shrink global warming through the next century.
Instead, the study found a majority of Forbes-listed companies had consistently lobbied against worldwide climate efforts, contradicting their own commitments to achieve net-zero emissions goals, the report claims.
The study identified multiple business heavyweights who were the most at risk for greenwashing, including Chevron, Delta Air Lines, ExxonMobil, Stellantis, Southern Company, Nippon Steel Corp., and Duke Energy.
"All have announced a net zero or similar target," the report said, however, "data shows them to be misaligned in their climate policy engagement activities with policy to deliver the Paris Agreement."
The report highlighted that lucrative companies were engaging in greenwashing if they had declared emission reduction targets but lacked sufficient internal policies to meet evolving climate goals worldwide.
More than 21% of applicable companies were at significant risk of greenwashing, while 36.5% were seen as moderate risks, according to the report.
The study, aided by the United Nations High-Level Expert Group "Integrity Matters" guidance on lobbying practices, comes less than two weeks before the start of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, where European Union leaders were planning to put pressure on the international community to adopt strict new policies to reduce methane emissions.
"These findings should be a wake-up call for businesses across the globe," said Catherine McKenna, who serves as chair of U.N.'s High-level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments. "It's clear that while companies are quick to showcase their climate commitments, too many of them are not backing that up with support for positive government policy on climate."
McKenna emphasized that wealthy companies were undermining climate commitments by lobbying against climate actions, saying "their net-zero commitments are simply not credible."
"We need businesses to create a climate ambition loop where private sector leadership encourages and reinforces ambitious government action," she said.
The report also emphasized the need for public-sector companies to "credibly demonstrate alignment with net zero by 2050" and cautioned against engaging in lobbying activities that would "undermine ambitious government climate policies either directly or through trade associations or other bodies."