The United Nations announced they are creating a 16-member body that would evaluate corporations’ net-zero pledges and require them to disclose climate-related risks. The experts are expected to make recommendations before the end of the year on standards for setting green targets. 

A 16-member expert group established by the United Nations is set to inspect public companies’ plans to achieve net-zero emissions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced last week that the newly appointed expert panel, led by Canada’s former environment minister Catherine McKenna, will evaluate the progress of companies’ green targets and plans to achieve net-zero emissions. 

In the race to reach carbon neutrality, corporations have been working on changing their business strategies and implementing a more sustainable approach to business. However, many of their pledges are nothing more than just ‘empty words’. In an effort to prevent greenwashing, green plans made by large companies, investors, cities, and local governments will soon be evaluated by an independent body to ensure they deliver their promises. 

Before the end of 2022, the panel will also make recommendations on the standards and definitions for setting green targets, how to measure companies’ progress and verify the authenticity and progress of their pledges as well as ways to translate all this into international and local regulations. 

The proposal comes as a growing number of companies are being accused of lacking details in their net-zero plans. A recent study found that net-zero pledges by 25 top global companies – including Amazon, Google, and Unilever – lack a detailed framework on how they intend to achieve these goals, a factor that contributes to misleading consumers in a process known as ‘greenwashing’. Another recent comprehensive research analysed that clean energy claims made by major oil and gas companies have not been supported by any concrete climate action or investments, proving that accusations of greenwashing are well-founded

The announcement also comes just days before a new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is set to be published and expected to confirm that the world is not on track to meet the 1.5-degree target by the end of the century, as laid down in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

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