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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Green wax? UN appoints panel to investigate climate efforts

The 16-member panel will make recommendations before the end of the year on the standards and definitions for setting net-zero targets.

The head of the United Nations announced on Thursday the appointment of an expert panel chaired by Canada’s former Secretary of State for the Environment to investigate whether companies’ efforts to combat climate change are credible or simply ‘greenwashing’.

In recent years, there has been an explosion of promises by businesses – including oil companies – to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” amid consumer expectations that corporations bear part of the burden of reducing pollution. But environmental activists say many such plans are vague at best, at worst designed to make companies look good when they actually fuel global warming.

“Governments have the bulk of the responsibility to achieve net zero emissions by the middle of the century,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, adding that this was especially true for the Group of 20 major emerging and industrialized economies that account for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

“But we also urgently need every business, investor, city, state and region to talk about their net zero promises,” he said.

The 16-member panel will make recommendations before the end of the year on the standards and definitions for setting net-zero targets, how to measure and verify progress, and ways to translate them into international and national regulations.

In addition to examining net-zero promises by the private sector, it will also examine commitments by local and regional governments that do not report directly to the UN. However, it will not “name and shame” individual companies, said UN climate envoy Selwin Hart.

The panel includes prominent Australian climate scientist Bill Hare, South Africa-based sustainable financial expert Malango Mughogho and former Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan.

It will be led by Catherine McKenna, who was Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change from 2015 to 2019.

McKenna urged businesses not to view net zero promises as a “get out of jail free card” and said she supported the idea of ​​including all exhaust fumes in the new standards, including those arising from the use of a company’s product.

One outside expert called the creation of the new panel “outstanding” and pointed out that targets such as “net zero” are interpreted differently by companies and officials.

Harry Fearnehough, a policy analyst at the NewClimate Institute, said the brainstorm recently reviewed several major companies and found “a number of critical issues with net-zero promises, many of which mislead consumers, regulators and shareholders”.

Gilles Dufrasne of the non-profit organization Carbon Market Watch also welcomed the UN’s new expert group, but urged them to issue clear and meaningful recommendations.

“Just like the targets it will seek to regulate, this group of words must go after actions, and meet strict criteria that put an end to greenwashing,” he said.

A report last month by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that more than three billion people worldwide are already at risk of global warming.

The panel will publish another report next week which is expected to confirm that the world is not on track to achieve the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. , which was laid down in 2015. Paris climate agreement.

“If we do not see significant and sustained emission reductions this decade, the window of opportunity to keep 1.5 alive will be closed – forever,” Guterres said. “And it’s going to be a disaster for everyone.”

World Nation News Desk
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