A recent report has revealed that out of the 2,000 largest publicly traded companies, half have committed to achieving net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. Despite this, only a small percentage have met the stringent criteria of the United Nations’ guidelines for a credible climate commitment.

The Net Zero Tracker, a collective effort involving Oxford University, reported a substantial increase in commitments among companies listed in the Forbes2000 index. 

As of October 2023, the number of companies with net-zero targets rose to 1,003, up from 702 in June 2022. These companies represent a significant portion of global revenue, amounting to approximately $27 trillion.

Nevertheless, only 4% of these commitments adhere to the standards set by the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, which includes comprehensive emissions coverage, immediate action on emission reductions, and regular updates on progress towards interim and long-term goals.

When it comes to Scope 3 emissions, which account for indirect emissions in a company’s value chain, only 37% of the companies with set targets have included them. Furthermore, a mere 13% meet the quality criteria for using carbon offsets.

The evolving stance of governments and corporations towards climate change is expected to be a focal issue at the upcoming COP28 climate negotiations in Dubai, which begin in late November.

John Lang, Project Lead at the Net Zero Tracker, said, “A clear line in the sand on net zero has surfaced. Countless net zero targets are credibility light, but now we can say for certain that most of the world’s largest listed companies are on the right side of the line on net zero intent. 

With credible net zero target-setting a proxy for forward-thinking, future-proofing companies, it begs a simple question: are the firms we’re investing in, working for and buying from on the right or wrong side of the line?”

The Net Zero Tracker also monitors the net-zero commitments of nations, states, regions, and cities through a combination of automated and manual data analysis. 

Collaborating with Oxford Net Zero, the consortium includes partners such as The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), Data-Driven EnviroLab (UNC), and the NewClimate Institute.