A growing number of countries and companies are setting climate neutrality or “net-zero” targets. Although the apparent growth in climate ambition of these actors is a promising development, it is often difficult to distinguish between actual climate leadership and a greenwashing of business as usual or only marginal improvements. The claims around these targets vary significantly in their scope of emissions, and to what extent emissions are actually reduced or offset. This variety leads to vastly different outcomes in terms of climate ambition and impact on global efforts to fight climate change.

In order to provide an introduction for citizens, investors, consumers, and other stakeholders to these targets and what they mean, the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), a German NGO, commissioned NewClimate Institute to take a closer look at a number of climate neutrality targets and claims made on behalf of countries, companies, and certain products and analyse what they actually mean in terms of climate impact. The sample results show that targets are often not sufficiently transparent to make a determination of what measures are being taken to actually change business models and processes towards climate friendly practices. The wide spectrum of national policy and industry practice suggests that these claims are often not directly comparable and should not all be taken at face value. This initial work sets out important information necessary to assess a corporate climate target and makes recommendations for how to go about taking ambitious climate action.

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