Carbon emission claims: just a load of hot air?

A report suggests just 7% of Brits believe businesses when they talk tough on carbon emissions. Hence the need for Climate Week...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 21 Mar 2011
That’s according to research by the Carbon Trust, which found that UK businesses are still some way off convincing punters that they're as eco-conscious as they say they are. Two-thirds of respondents questioned the authenticity of companies’ promises about reducing carbon emissions, while 56% said they were more concerned than they were five years ago about the actions businesses are taking to reduce their impact. Some 70% thought that companies should be forced to disclose their emissions – just to prove they're putting their money where their mouths are, presumably.

So what will win these hardened sceptics over? Well, 90% wanted firms to commit to the average 3%-a-year emissions cut required for the UK to meet climate change targets for 2050, while 60% said they'd need third-party evidence of action from a respected climate change body before they’ll believe corporate claims.

The research has been done to coincide with the start of the first ever Climate Week, where businesses can expect to find their carbon promises well and truly under the green spotlight. PM David Cameron is backing the initiative, along with heavyweights like Al Gore, Kofi Annan and Lord Nicholas Stern, he of the famous Stern Report on climate change back in 2006. And that’s not all; a gang of celebrities are also involved, including Sienna Miller. If that’s not a guaranteed sign of authenticity, we don’t know what is.

Ed Gillespie, co-founder of Futerra Sustainability Communications, was quoted in the Guardian as saying: ‘The real pioneers in business are developing new solutions and changing what they do, not just how they do it... If you're not heading in that direction you're corporate toast.’ That's as may be. But on the other hand, if businesses were a whole lot better at getting their green messages across, he'd be out of a job.

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