21% of the World’s Largest Public Companies Commit to Net Zero Target

21% of the World’s Largest Public Companies Commit to Net Zero Target

The term ‘net zero’ is being bandied about with increasing regularity, as businesses, campaigners and governments recognise the importance of acting fast to combat climate change.

Achieving net zero means balancing out greenhouse gas emissions by reducing or removing them from the atmosphere in equal proportions. The research initiative Oxford Net Zero states that this target must be achieved by around 2050 to prevent the very worst climate change damages – and it’s an aim that recently received potentially significant backing.

At least one fifth of the world’s 2,000 largest public companies have committed to meet net zero targets. The news, which was revealed in a report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and Oxford Net Zero, will have offered a sign of hope for current and future generations.

The UK Businesses Pledging Net Zero

The 21% global engagement was bettered domestically, as almost 1 in 3 of the UK’s largest businesses committed to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. That total includes 30 of the UK’s FTSE100 companies, with household names such as AstraZeneca, BT Group, Sainsbury’s and Unilever all pledging their support.  

Many other large businesses across transport, technology and finance sectors have joined the so-called Race to Zero. Some such as Vodafone, Rolls-Royce and Legal and General went several steps further, by committing to targets of reaching net zero by 2030.

As it stands, the UK is a proud global leader on tackling emissions. There’s no doubting that such actions must be praised, and that these businesses have incredible influence across society and the economy as a whole. The commercial dynamic of such promises cannot be ignored, however – and investors and individuals interested in spread betting will be paying close attention to the companies at the forefront.

Those who fail to commit to more sustainable practices meanwhile risk facing serious financial, reputational and potentially legal consequences in the near future.  

Fears Over ‘Greenwashing’ Remain

‘Greenwashing’ describes the process of masking the true environmental impact of a business’ practices or products through highly publicised and misleading green initiatives. It’s done to preserve commercial interests, rather than forward positive change, and so is rightly called out when identified.

The term was coined many decades ago when climate fears were in their infancy but has become more common since. And given that ‘net zero’ is still a relatively new concept, there are growing fears that a lack of transparency and governance could allow corporations to falsify or inflate their efforts.

A particular concern is that businesses will become overly reliant on carbon offsets, rather than emission cuts which are more positively impactful.

Campaigners have called for more detailed plans on how net zero targets can be met now that they’ve been widely established.  

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