By Ian Bickis in Toronto
Vague promises by banks and businesses to reach net zero emissions decades in the future risk undermining the very real action needed now, former environment minister Catherine McKenna said as she released a report outlining the standards and government action needed to make those promises count.
“Too many of these net zero pledges represent little more than empty slogans and hype. Consumers are right to be skeptical,” said McKenna, speaking on Tuesday at the latest climate conference in Egypt in her role as chair of a UN expert group focused on the net zero question.
To bring integrity to these promises, the report recommends that targets cover absolute emission reductions across a company’s value chain, that pledges contain specific targets aimed at ending the use and financing of fossil fuel exploration and production, and for those making the pledges to set reduction targets for every five years as well as detailed plans on how they’re going to get there.
“We set very clear red lines on greenwashing. This is what you cannot do, if you announce publicly, you put up your hand and you say I’m a climate leader,” said McKenna. “You cannot claim to be net zero by continuing to build or invest in new fossil fuel supply.”
Since there are such a variety of approaches to net zero targets, McKenna called on governments to regulate net zero targets to tackle greenwashing and level the playing field, starting with high-impact emitters including large corporations as well as banks and other financial institutions.
The 10 recommendations in the report also include restrictions around the use of carbon offsets, ending lobbying that’s counter to climate pledges, and the need for a “just transition” as part of climate commitments, which includes financial institutions and multinational companies to take on more risk while ramp up clean energy investments in developing countries.
The proposed standards come as voluntary net zero clubs, such as the Mark Carney-led Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, go through teething pains as they look to set clear standards that their multitudes of members can agree to.
The Glasgow group, which now has more than 550 member firms including all of Canada’s big banks, distanced itself in October from a UN group that had issued stronger language around fossil fuel funding.
The split points to the limits of voluntary groups, noted several Canadian environmental groups last week as they also called for regulation on financial sector climate efforts.
On Friday, Stand.earth released a report pointing out that RBC has provided $9.2 billion in funding to the fossil fuel sector since last year’s climate conference and their joining of the Glasgow club, as further evidence of the limits of such pledges.
RBC, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the net zero recommendations, has emphasized the need for an orderly transition away from fossil fuels.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that current net zero commitments have “loopholes wide enough to drive a diesel truck through,” while focusing particular criticism at fossil fuel companies and their “financial enablers.”
“Using bogus net zero pledges to cover up massive fossil fuel expansion is reprehensible,” said Guterres. “This toxic coverup could push our world over the climate cliff.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2022.
- 0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building0060 Arizona Lithium Lease building
- 0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator0059 Southeast College Heavy Equipment Operator
- 0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket0058 Royal Helium Steveville opens anonymous rocket
- 9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX9002 Pipeline Online 30 sec EBEX
- 0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office0055 Smart Power Be Smart with your Power office
- 0015 Latus Viro0015 Latus Viro
- 0052 Predator Inspections0052 Predator Inspections
- 0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly0051 JML Hiring Pumpjack assembly
- 0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar0049 Scotsburn Dental soft guitar
- 0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan0046 City of Estevan This is Estevan
- 0043 ALX ten sizes0043 ALX ten sizes
- 0039 Summit ESP Saskatchewan lower third0039 Summit ESP Saskatchewan lower third
- 0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build0041 DEEP Since 2018 now we are going to build
- 0032 IWS Summer hiring rock trailer music
- 0022 Grimes winter hiring
- 0021 OSY Rentals S8 Promo
- 0018 IWS Hiring Royal Summer
- 0013 Panther Drilling PO ad 03 top drive rigs
- 0006 JK Junior