Sharm El Sheikh, 9 November 2022 (TDI): In a report released at COP27, the United Nations (UN) published a set of guidelines to determine whether the claims made by the companies about their environmental credentials are real or merely “Greenwashing.”

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said at the launch of the report at COP27 that “we must have zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing. Today’s Expert Group report is a how-to guide to ensure credible, accountable net-zero pledges.”

The report was created by a team of 17 UN experts under the direction of Catherine McKenna, the head of the High-Level Expert Group.

Moreover, the guidelines assist stakeholders in evaluating businesses and other nonstate organizations committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions. The requirements include how businesses use carbon credits and invest in energy sources.

Four Crucial Areas

The report covers four crucial areas, as identified by the Secretary-General. The environmental integrity, credibility, accountability, and responsibility of governments.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios limit warming to 5 degrees. Therefore, by 2030, global emissions must fall by at least 45% to reach net zero by 2050.

Starting in 2025, pledges should include interim goals every five years, according to the Secretary-General. Additionally, all greenhouse gas emissions and their ranges must be included in the targets.

This refers to all financial operations for financial institutions, and all emissions, including direct, indirect, and supply chain emissions, for enterprises and cities.

“The message is clear to CEOs, mayors, and governors committed to net-zero, as well as all those overseeing existing volunteer initiatives: follow this criterion, and revise your policies —certainly before COP28,” Guterres said.

Furthermore, net-zero pledges, according to the UN head, should be backed with a transition plan. “Management is responsible for keeping these commitments.

This means publicly supporting prompt climate action and disclosing all lobbying work,” Secretary-General said.

In this regard, the UN chief urged all net-zero voluntary projects to step up their efforts and to standardize progress reports and publicize them on open platforms that feed the Global Climate Action Portal of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

According to McKenna, “currently, net-zero pledges cover more than 80% of global emissions. The earth cannot afford further delay, justifications, or greenwashing at this time”.

Guterres had declared last year at COP26 in Glasgow that he would form an Expert Group to address “misunderstanding and deficit of credibility” about net-zero targets of non-State enterprises.