Carbon Pass the Parcel

Posted by Flux on 

22 November 2021

What’s trending?
Activist Greta Thunberg stormed out of a recent COP26 meeting about carbon markets, shouting “no more greenwashing!” Some governments and corporations are shifting the blame to others and avoiding taking responsibility for their irresponsible carbon behaviour. Carbon trading is being used to offset emissions and meet targets but instead of reducing their carbon footprints, entities have merely transplanted them. The work-from-home trend has allowed companies to report favourable emission reduction numbers as air conditioners etc. are switched off. Companies do however include employees’ home emissions in reports but these figures are based in many cases on guesstimates only and are misleading. A recent EcoAct white paper stressed that these emissions “have not been eliminated, rather they have been relocated to employee homes beyond the company’s direct control”. 

Why is it important?
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said, “offsetting doesn’t stop carbon entering the atmosphere and warming our world, it just keeps it off the ledgers of the governments and companies responsible”. Purchasing offsets to transition to net-zero carbon emissions doesn’t erase the footprint that governments and companies create and won’t save us in the long run. The net effect, if all parties deflect responsibility, is no real climate progress from a global point of view. 

What can businesses do about it?
Petrochemical companies are painted as the villains. However the issue is not black and white as many other industries use and sell products that are by-products of petrochemicals. Governments, the private sector and citizens all need to take responsibility for their production of greenhouse gases for any real progress to be made regarding reducing or eliminating emissions. While carbon trading is part of the solution, companies also need to accelerate their transition to renewable energy and to reduce the number of international business trips. They need to report accurate employee emissions data, offer incentives to staff to reduce their carbon footprint at home, and to provide low-carbon food options in canteens. But companies need to take great care that they are not engaging in ‘greenwashing’, which could lead to reputational damage. Gen Z consumers and employees who represent the future consumer base and workforce, are eco-conscious and wary of companies that are endangering the environment. 

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By Faeeza Khan

Image credit: Rawpixel

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