Ten of Australia’s best-known corporations – including Coles, Telstra, Woolworths and Qantas – have no clear plans to stop using or supporting fossil fuels despite having targets to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report.

The companies were also failing to report clearly the impact of their businesses on the climate warming caused directly or indirectly from land clearing.

The report, from the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, examined in detail the climate plans and disclosures of Coles, Woolworths, Telstra, Rio Tinto, Qantas, BlueScope Steel, Origin, AGL, Cleanaway and South 32. The companies were selected as major emitters in their respective industries.

Commissioned by a new Australia-based advocacy group, Climate Integrity, the report said none of the 10 Australian companies had a “comprehensive, independently verified and fully costed plan for reducing their emissions” that was in line with a scientifically credible pathway to decarbonise quickly enough to keep global heating to 1.5C.

Researchers assessed companies against guidelines laid out in late 2022 by a UN expert group after broad concerns that corporate climate pledges were often vague, inconsistent, incomplete, over-reliant on offsets and in some cases amounted to greenwashing.

The level of alignment of the Australian companies with the UN group’s recommendations was “disappointingly low”, the report said.

Fewer than half the companies were on track to meet their own targets, the report claimed, and none had targets or plans to stop using fossil fuels.

“The lack of scientific alignment with the need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels is particularly concerning,” the report said. “Without commitments to phase out fossil fuels, it is difficult to see how net zero pledges can be fulfilled.”

The report found companies had aligned themselves with a “plethora of frameworks, assessments, standards and disclosure requirements” that were mostly voluntary.

It said none of the companies disclosed enough information for researchers to understand if or how companies were accounting for the impact of land clearing in their climate targets.

Claire Snyder, the director at Climate Integrity, said there was little consistency in the achievements and failings across the company plans. “That demonstrates there’s no clear standard or shared understanding among companies of what [a credible net zero plan] should look like,” she said.

Snyder said Climate Integrity would push for policy change in Australia that would give the public confidence that claims made by companies were credible and give industry a clearer set of expectations.

The Albanese government is expected to introduce legislation later this year to mandate what information companies should disclose in their financial reports relating to the risks from climate change.

Alison Atherton, one of the report’s authors at UTS, said the research showed a “high degree of variability in the information being provided publicly by companies”.

“Decision makers, researchers, consumers and investors need to be able to have confidence in these plans,” she said.

Only three companies – Woolworths, Coles and Telstra – had targets verified by the international Science Based Targets initiative.

Woolworths Group said it was making “good progress on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, with our operations switching to 100 per cent renewable electricity within the next two years, and our fleet of 1,200 home delivery trucks set to become electric by 2030”.

Extracted in full from:  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/feb/20/australian-companies-using-supporting-fossil-fuels-list-coles-woolworths-telstra-rio-tinto-qantas-bluescope-steel-origin-agl-cleanaway-south-32