The responsibility to fight climate change is often directed towards consumers, with ad campaigns focusing on this issue as early as the 1970s and gaining further traction with the PR campaign launched by BP in 2004 which coined the term "carbon footprint" as a way to measure the individual's impact on the planet. But according to data from the Germany-based NewClimate Institute, some of the largest multinational corporations not only leave a considerably larger footprint than a comparable group of individuals ever could, they also either don't communicate their climate responsibility measures transparently enough or are outright lacking in that department.
As our chart shows, 84 percent of the 25 companies surveyed by the think tank showed only very low or low integrity in realizing their climate goals. While all companies have set some kind of goal, the individual approaches differ. Amazon, for example, ranks in the low integrity tier and pledges to be net-zero in terms of carbon by 2040, while the similarly low ranking Ikea claims to become climate positive by 2030. Overall, 13 of the 25 companies surveyed showed at least moderate transparency concerning their climate responsibility goals, but only four showed an integrity of moderate or higher. Interestingly, three of the four corporations in this bracket, namely Apple, Sony and Vodafone, originate from the tech industry, while logistics provider Maersk was the only company with a reasonable integrity score despite its sector's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
To put together this tiered list, researchers from the NewClimate Institute looked at publicly available information on tracking and disclosure of emissions, setting specific and substantiated targets, reducing emissions and climate contributions and offsetting by the corresponding companies. Overall, the companies surveyed generated $3.2 trillion in 2020, making up ten percent of the 500 biggest companies' revenue and contributed a total of 2.7 billion metric tons of CO2 in 2019, which amounts to roughly seven percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions over the corresponding year.