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Sustainability firm says companies are ‘green hushing’ science-based targets

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Unsplash

South Pole, a firm centred around supporting businesses with their sustainability goals, has released the third edition of its annual report looking at how companies are approaching net-zero goals.

In the report, the organisation looked at over 1,200 private companies who have sustainability or CSR head, which it could then label as “leaders” of climate action.

A particular trend it had highlighted this year was that of so-called “green hushing”, which referenced the rise in less public-facing communication of science-based targets (SBT), making these goals harder to scrutinise and could put a limit on knowledge-sharing.

The report went on to state that this practice could result in missed opportunities for sectors to work together to decarbonise, and further give the impression that climate leaders are failing to lead in the public eye.

Nearly a quarter of the companies analysed had outlined the intention to not to publicise their SBT, with the most likely businesses being located in Belgium and the DACH region.

Fear of criticism a possible cause

South Pole suggested an array of possible causes behind this factor, such as a fear of criticism and mounting pressure that has some from increasing claims of greenwashing, which could be pushing businesses to become less inclined to share their targets.

It added that, while the SBTi Progress Report 2021 had identified the UK and France being two of the leading regions for organisations to set out such targets, its survey revealed that respondents from France were among those least likely to publicise their SBTs.

The report went on to propose that this could be due to France being one of the few countries to have explicit regulation in place on corporate climate claims.

Alternatively, South Pole’s climate commitment database further showed that, out of 68,000 companies analysed, just seven percent had set a net zero target.

Despite being such a low number, the majority of these targets, within 60 percent of the companies, were backed by science-based emission reduction milestones.

Around 16 percent of its database companies had committed to achieving net-zero by or before 2030, while 25 percent set a date between 2031 and 2040.

South Pole
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