Corporations Are Hiding Their Carbon Emissions With Bad Math, New Research Reveals

Adopting an environmentally approach has become mandatory for major corporations because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up putting them in line with consumer sentiments on these matters. Several corporations are trying to save face by claiming that they are switching to renewable energy, but in spite of the fact that this is the case new research reveals that many of their stated carbon reductions are false and predicated on bad math.

RECs, or Renewable Energy Certificates, play a role in the claims that these companies are making. A corporation can basically pay for a project that will generate renewable and sustainable energy and subsequently receive an REC in exchange for that. However, new research published in Nature Climate Change suggests that corporations are exaggerating their claims with all things having been considered and taken into account. For example, certain brands that state that they only use renewable energy are still using fossil fuels, they just buy renewable energy in the hopes that this will make up for that.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that the 115 companies that the team behind this research looked into all claimed to have collectively reduced pollution causing energy usage by 30%. This was done in a four year period up until 2019, and according to this research the figure is grossly exaggerated. The actual reduction in fossil fuel energy usage was around 10%. This is better than nothing, but it is only a third of what these companies actually claimed.

The problem with switching to renewable energy is that it is hard to do so if you are still using electricity from the grid. Grid based power can be acquired from multiple sources both renewable and non-renewable, and the idea behind RECs is that they fund the production of renewable energy which will ostensibly replace fossil fuel based sources in the future by incentivizing energy companies to invest the REC money they receive into them.

Also, RECs don’t always reduce fossil fuel based energy consumption or production. They may be yet another example of how corporations us underhanded techniques to give the impression of progress without actually letting true progress occur. The environmental crisis will not be solved by such stopgap solutions. Appearances won’t matter when the planet becomes too hot to be habitable, so it is up to use to hold corporate entities accountable for all that they do. With time quickly running out, these RECs and other similar programs might be wasting the opportunities that we have right now to fight climate change.

Read next: Half of All Cars Sold by 2030 Will Be Battery Powered Electric, New Forecast Reveals
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