More Than 350 Groups Condemn Corporate Net-Zero Pledges as a Dangerous, Unjust Distraction

WASHINGTON 355 groups released a statement today calling “net-zero” emission pledges by corporations and governments a dangerous distraction from real climate action. This comes as the House Oversight and Reform Committee holds a hearing to ”examine the role of the fossil fuel industry in spreading climate disinformation and heating the planet.” 

CEOs and presidents from Exxon Mobil, BP America, Chevron, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be testifying. Shell and BP have announced “ambitions” to be net-zero by 2050 and Chevron has announced a similar “aspiration.”

The hearing comes just days before COP 26, the United Nations’ climate negotiations taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, which many have dubbed the “net-zero” COP.

In their letter to government policymakers — including those from the Biden Administration, Congress, and state and local governments — the groups describe these net-zero pledges as ineffective, unjust greenwashing drastically out of touch with the worsening climate crisis.

“Net zero targets are just the latest deception by polluting corporations, the U.S., and other governments to extricate themselves from undertaking the radical greenhouse gas emission reductions that science and justice require,” said Karen Orenstein, Director of the Climate & Energy Justice Program at Friends of the Earth U.S. ”But neither the atmosphere nor the people facing fires, floods, and other climate impacts are fooled. We call on the Biden Administration and Congress to commit to absolute reductions – full stop – and to say no to the corrupted concept of net-zero.”

“Pledges to meet net-zero emissions targets are really just carbon offsets and carbon capture technologies in disguise,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Polluters and governments continue to spin new terms to confuse and distract from the fact that they intend to continue polluting Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth. We do not have time for the net-zero false solution targets.”

“Net zero pledges by corporate agribusiness are another false solution to the climate crisis and an empty attempt to hijack meaningful debate and accountability on reducing pollution at the point of emission,” said Jordan Treakle, National Program Coordinator for the National Family Farm Coalition. “Polluting corporations have extracted wealth from rural and marginalized communities for decades; it’s well-past time for our public institutions and political leaders to respond to the needs of the People and drastically cut emissions from these corporate entities by 2030 through absolute reductions, while facilitating a Just Transition that prioritizes the resilience of frontline communities, workers, and independent food producers.”

“Net-zero is the language of the fossil fuel industry and provides for the continuing extraction and burning of fossil fuels,” said Joe Uehlein, President of Labor Network for Sustainability. “Net-zero supplements equally dangerous carbon capture technologies that have the same goal. Over 300 scientists just wrote to President Biden urging that we get off fossil fuels right now. Net-zero is not the way to accomplish that task.”

“Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage African-American population and one of the poorest states in the nation, is home to a $7.5 billion failed carbon capture sequestration plant,” said Kathy Egland, Co-Founder of Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization (EEECHO). “This risky experimental debacle is located in a poor, mostly Black town and would have posed an unbearable financial burden to ratepayers. Now Mississippi’s poor, Black communities are facing deadly exposures from the proliferation of toxic wood pellet manufacturing plants for ‘bioenergy.’ The idea of ‘net-zero’ emissions encourages the growth of these false solutions. We must end these human rights injustices and invest in a viable, just energy transition that will safeguard people and the planet.”

Background: What Corporations and Governments Mean by “Net-Zero”

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, (202) 222-0746, [email protected]

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