Home Sciences The UN will monitor that the ‘green’ promises of companies are fulfilled

The UN will monitor that the ‘green’ promises of companies are fulfilled

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Business and environmental organizations agree that We must monitor the green promises to avoid toasting the sun and worsening the climate crisisbut while some ask for flexibility when it comes to setting standards, others demand strict, obligatory norms based on scientific criteria.

Given that emissions do not stop growing despite the fact that there are more and more promises to reduce or offset them by companies, cities or regions, the UN has created a group of experts that will set criteria to verify themamong whom is Helena Viñes, director of the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV).

The objective, according to the UN itself, is to prevent what is known as “greenwashing” or “green facelift”.

“It is not about supervising or regulating the commitments of companies, but about rationalizing the contributions of the private sector to the process of achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” they told Efe from the CEOE.

The contribution of the private sector is essential to ensure that temperatures do not rise and each country and many companies have put their contribution to the Paris Agreement on the table.

“Now we have to marry these contributions to be able to determine the global scenario and the progress towards meeting objectives,” according to the same source, who has pointed out that currently private climate action exceeds that of governments and a system is needed to increase transparency and comparability.

“The promises are neither verifiable nor comparable”

For the Greenpeace spokesman, Miguel Soto, control should not be limited only to emissions, since all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being “used and abused”, and if now the promises are not verifiable or comparable it is because they are not standardized and each one measures in his own way.

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This not only increases the risk of “greenwashing”, but also prevents distinguishing those who are really making an effort, he warned.

volunteering is overwe have to move towards mandatory regulatory frameworks that prevent the violation of human rights or the impact of companies on the environment and that are extraterritorial so that global companies are accountable for everything they do and cannot cheat,” according to Soto .

It is useless, for example, for a bank to plant trees in Spain and, in parallel, finance activities responsible for deforestation in the Amazonhas added.

To verify that the objectives set by the UN are met, the controls must have a scientific basis and be designed by “people independent of the big industry lobbies.”

“Criteria should be as stringent as possible and based on science and not on political issues. The control tools are also important because we are proving that relying on the measure of the companies and institutions themselves is not working”, they have pointed out from Ecologists in Action.

Among those tools would be advertising observatories or mandatory environmental audits.

Companies and public organizations adhere to commitments, in many cases empty of content, that do not imply significant transformations of their “modus operandi”, which is why strict regulation is necessary, according to the environmental organization, which defends that surveillance depends on the State or independent entities.

Control mechanisms now depend on the private sector

The general secretary of the Spanish Sustainable Financing Observatory (OFISO), Juan Carlos Villanueva, explained that “control mechanisms” already exist, but that these are not enough because they start from private institutions when they should start from public organizations and officers.

“Many announcements and commitments are being made that can be simple toasts to the sun. It is necessary to supervise, there is no doubt, what raises doubts is how and who should do it. In some cases it will have to be the central banks, in others the supervisory organisms sectors and in others the market itself”, he pointed out.

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In your opinion, developments of a governmental or public nature are necessary that define which activities can be considered “green” (such as the EU taxonomy) and to monitor the fulfillment of promises.

The inspection must be gradual and take into account that many of the commitments are not being fulfilled due to lack of technology, according to Jaime Silos, director of Corporate Development at Forética, an organization for the promotion of sustainability that brings together more than 200 companies.

“The transition to zero net emissions is probably the greatest economic, industrial and technological challenge in history. Most of the technologies are in an experimental phase or have not even been invented,” according to Silos, who has recognized that this lends itself to incurring in “greenwashing”, since committing now and postponing results in the future costs “relatively little.”

There is also the danger of adopting a “puritanical” regulatory stance that would discourage the “honest commitment of a good number of companies that want to make that transition,” he added.

Regulatory uncertainty, the lack of stable incentives or doubts about which technologies will be viable can “paralyze the corporate agenda”, a situation that will be aggravated if the risk of being audited for not reaching the proposed objectives is added.

For this reason, all criteria should be progressive and revised depending on the degree of advancement of technology, he has defended.

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Environment section contact: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

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