According to a new analysis by Greenpeace, most of Australia’s highest-emitting companies that have implemented net-zero emission commitments do not have any will to meet their target.
The report is titled, From Hero To Zero: Uncovering the truth of corporate Australia’s climate action claims.
Among the ASX200 companies, Greenpeace says the majority have no plans ‘to end their use of coal… or rely on the use of dubious carbon offsets’.
Greenpeace claims that half of Australia’s 80 top-emitting ASX200 companies (51 per cent) have set a net-zero or carbon-neutral target.
However, among these 41 companies, only 14 (34 per cent) have taken up this challenge by switching to 100 per cent renewable electricity.
For example, the Greenpeace report shows that in 2020, AGL accounted for only ten per cent of total renewables electricity. However, an AGL spokeswoman told The Echo, ‘We operate the largest portfolio of renewable assets of any ASX-listed company’.
According to Nikola Čašule, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Research and Investigations, ‘Carbon offset schemes enable companies like AGL, Australia’s biggest corporate climate polluter, Santos and Qantas to make impressive-sounding net-zero emission and carbon neutral claims – while doing nothing to reduce dangerous emissions from their use and production of fossil fuels’.
This practice is known as ‘greenwashing’.
Greenpeace adds that these companies, and governments, rely on net-zero emissions targets by 2050, which are inadequate for the scale and urgency of emissions reduction required by climate science.
Instead, Greenpeace suggests reaching net-zero emissions by 2030.
The Echo asked AGL why they are not aiming for this target by 2030.
The AGL spokesperson did not directly answer the question and replied instead that, ‘AGL’s Climate Statement sets a target of net-zero emissions by 2050, acknowledging the role we have to play in leading a responsible and orderly transition to a cleaner energy future. We are committed to transparency of reporting, including our Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report and the recently announced Say on Climate’.
In their 2020 Climate Statement, AGL announced that they would continue to use coal in their Bayswater power station until 2035.
‘These Australian companies need to establish near-term 100 per cent renewable electricity targets and phase out the use of fossil fuels, rather than relying on dodgy offsets’, explained Nikola Čašule.
Mr Čašule added that tree planting projects are not enough for these companies, which continue to burn coal, oil, and gas.
Zoë Duc is an Echo intern.