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Is the petrol in your car from Ampol really carbon neutral? ‘Carbon-Neutral’ Fossil Fuels & State-Sponsored Greenwashing

Polly Hemming from the Australia Institute outlines the problem with Ampol’s greenwashing, but also highlighting this is a problem in lack of regulation allowing the greenwashing for use of dodgy carbon credits to meet dodgy net zero targets.

Both Ampol and the Federal Government should read the Report on Addressing Greenwashing and net-zero pledges at non-state levels: the High Level Expert Group on Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities released its report to the UN Secretary-General on 9 November. 

It is Important for enforcing meaningful emissions reduction and targets by businesses, regional, city and local governments. (Addressing Greenwashing and net-zero pledges at non-state levels: New report by UN Expert group at COP27)

See also Coverge of the UN greenwashing and netzero report and its implication for business, state and local governments. at The Conversation.

Watch the video….

Carbon neutral petrol here in Australia? Too good to be true!

Dr Bill Hare, an Australian climate scientist, adviser and member of the High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities, told the Guardian the main implication from the report was “whether or not Australia will bite the bullet and move away from relying upon offsets”.

“If the government doubles down on the present system whereby offsets are allowed to be used to do all of the so-called emission reductions, then there is a serious risk that the Australian government becomes a state sponsoring greenwashing,” he told the Guardian.

Further from the Guardian report:

Hare said the group had called for a taskforce to be developed to ensure the recommendations were incorporated into regulation and law around the world. In Australia, he said that should involve federal and state governments and corporate and consumer watchdogs.

“There needs to be regulation,” Hare said. “The wild west approach to corporate net zero targets needs to end so that public, consumers and investors have confidence that net zero claims of companies are real and not greenwashing.

“We’ve reached a point in time where we cannot afford to cheat on the climate. It’s too important and the implications for future generations too great.”

Polly Hemming from the Australia Institute has long been across the murky waters of carbon offsets. She offered the following comment to the Guardian:

 In Australia, there has been a rapid expansion of net zero pledges in boardrooms, including at many major fossil fuel corporations. Polly Hemming, a climate researcher at the Australia Institute, said the lack of regulation meant it was “like a choose-your-own adventure”.

She said most fossil fuel companies relied on buying offsets to reduce their reported emissions in their net zero plans. “There’s a complete over-reliance from the private sector on offsets and the government is allowing that,” Hemming said.

Federal Government Ministers need to read this report and make it part of Australia’s regulatory framework. Erwin Jackson, policy director at the Investor Group on Climate Change, commented:

the group’s recommendations would help to establish benchmarks to assess company commitments and would ultimately be “the regulatory system that governed greenwashing”.

“This science-based assessment will be how every Australian company’s commitment to addressing climate change will be judged,” he said.

He said investors had shown at fossil fuel annual general meetings in Australia that they already considered new fossil fuel development to be incompatible with credible net zero plans. “You can’t say you’re committed to the Paris agreement and go out and expand fossil fuels, and you can’t offset your way to net zero,” Jackson said.

The article highlights that a recent review of 187 companies on the ASX200 by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors – a group that represents investment funds and asset owners in boardrooms – found nearly half had net zero commitments, but only 3% counted all emissions caused by the company’s activities. 

That is an awful lot of corporate greenwashing being allowed to happen.

Australian Council of Superannuation Investors chief executive, Louise Davidson said “The research found a lot of targets have been set and there’s growing corporate ambition,” she said. “But commitments on disclosure around those didn’t give us confidence that corporate Australia is heading for 1.5C.”

The present Government is reviewing integrity of carbon offsets A spokesperson for Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said “The government stands by its safeguard [mechanism] reforms, which allows facilities to use offsets to meet reductions in their baselines,” the spokesperson said.

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