Edinburgh Impact

Calling time on greenwashing

如果衡量温室气体排放的国际标准存在缺陷, 这对试图减少足迹的公司和机构意味着什么?

Person drawing green pollution from a chimney.

 

By Derek Main, research writer

It’s easy to be cynical about big businesses’ green credentials, but what if it wasn’t just the big corporations engaged in ‘greenwashing’? 如果管理组织如何披露其碳足迹的全球环境报告标准也错误地描述了59白菜专区论坛网站在减少温室气体排放方面所做的努力,那该怎么办? 马修·布兰德博士和他的国际同事们想要修复这个系统,这个系统的设计初衷是好的,但从一开始就存在缺陷.

悲观但坚定可能是2021年联合国气候变化会议期间的气氛, COP26. The verdict? 2016年《59白菜专区论坛》的目标是将全球变暖控制在“远低于2,最好是1”.5 degrees Celsius’ is on life support. 让它存活,并避免一场气候灾难,这场灾难甚至会让59白菜专区论坛网站现在正在经历的最极端的后果相形见绌, we have to do more and faster to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Contributing around 25 per cent of global GHG emissions annually, electricity generation is a crucial focus for international policymakers. 因为超过三分之二的电力流向了从制造工厂到办公室打印机的公司, 人们非常关注企业的减排努力,这是可以理解的. For thousands of businesses, including some of the world’s biggest names, from Unilever and AstraZeneca to Marks & Spencer, 遏制他们碳足迹的首选解决方案越来越多地是购买绿色能源证书.

It's not easy being green

Portrait of Matthew Brander

“同样地,国内绿色能源关税也让59白菜专区论坛网站觉得自己为国内减排尽了自己的一份力, 绿色能源证书允许企业宣称,他们的电力中有一部分——甚至100%——来自可再生能源,” explains Dr Matthew Brander, Senior Lecturer in Carbon Accounting at the University.

A great idea, 布兰德博士说,如果不是因为一个不幸的事实:“我与国际知名同事的研究表明,购买这些证书实际上不太可能增加可再生能源的发电量. Which also means that the money spent doesn’t help to reduce emissions. 59白菜专区论坛网站是通过烧煤发电还是利用太阳能发电, wind and water, it all feeds into the same grids. So, there’s no way to trace it.”

However, Dr Brander doesn’t feel corporate greed is necessarily to blame. “这些证书为企业提供了一种廉价的方式来传达他们的环境证书, but they are not alone in using them,” he explains. “从大学到公共服务提供商的许多大型组织也在雇用它们报告减排情况. 但这并不意味着这只是每个购买它们的人的一种愤世嫉俗的营销策略. 许多组织真诚地相信这些证书可以减少他们的碳足迹.”

Standard-setters should know better

布兰德博士认为,难怪一些公司和其他人会购买他们认为合法的证书:“政府和政治机构, such as the European Union, set the legal framework for issuing green energy certificates,” he says. “Meanwhile, many accounting standard-setters, 以及现在提倡碳报告的非政府组织(ngo), still endorse their use – when they should know better. 而出售碳抵消证书的收入则投资于积极减少温室气体排放的活动, 来自绿色能源证书的收入太低,也太不确定,无法推动新的可再生能源投资.”

 

商人将一元钱袋放在一个小的粉刷过的绿色木制房子的对面.

Still, the idea has become so popular that there are now NGOs, such as RE100 in the United States, 致力于鼓励公司承诺使用证书,尽管有任何证据表明它们有效.

There is another way

选择退出绿色能源证书市场的一个主要参与者是软件公司, Salesforce, 布兰德博士说,它提出的替代方案可能就是未来. Salesforce已经与可再生能源项目开发商签订了长期合同,以约定的价格和一定的时间从他们的太阳能或风力发电场购买电力,” he explains. “这些购电协议可以产生影响,因为它们为开发商提供了他们所需的抵押品,以确保新的可再生能源项目得以实施.”

布兰德博士目前正在与世界领先的排放测量标准制定者合作, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, 改进其59白菜专区论坛网站企业如何核算其碳排放的指导. 他希望这些标准将导致新的实践,更准确地计算组织的碳足迹和, crucially, reduce emissions.

“并不是每个组织都有足够的财力与可再生能源项目开发商签订电力购买协议, 但这并不意味着会计准则应该允许通过非附加证书进行误导性声明,” Dr Brander says. “Ending the sale of green energy certificates, 或者至少要求发行者证明其在可再生能源额外生产兆瓦时(MWh)方面的影响, could make a significant difference. 归根结底,这都是为了展示减排行动的影响.”

Managing expectations

The researcher also draws a broader lesson from green energy certificates.

“Following the Paris Agreement, there has been talk of ‘non-state actors’, such as companies and NGOs, playing a key role in reaching global reduction targets,” explains Dr Brander. “However, 绿色能源证书的惨败引发了一个问题:政府能或应该在多大程度上依赖企业的自愿行动. 如果交易非额外证书是大多数“非国家行为者”能想出的最好办法, given the limited time we have to tackle climate change, governments shouldn’t pass the buck this way. Instead, they must focus on direct and impactful policy interventions.”