Nestlé, the world’s biggest food and beverage company, has pledged to be Net Zero by 2050. On top of this, many of its brands such as KitKat and Nespresso are stating bold “Carbon Neutral” claims to consumers.
“Delivering our promise: By 2050, we will reach net zero. Advanced agricultural techniques will deliver a regenerative food system at scale, supported by zero emission logistics and company operations.
We will balance any remaining emissions through high-quality natural climate solutions that benefit people and the planet.”
What this headline claim doesn’t tell consumers is that these green credentials aren’t backed up by solid actions to reduce emissions. Recent assessments show how Nestlé is on track to reach just 16 - 21 percent emissions reductions by 2050, rather than the 50 percent they claim. Meanwhile, Nestlé and its brands are relying on controversial offsetting and insetting practices, only addressing some greenhouse gases and excluding others, and using misleading reporting practices.
The False Claims
Nestlé claims that it will ‘not allow’ offsetting to achieve its targets. It does however use something called ‘insetting’ to neutralise a significant portion of its emissions. ‘Insetting’ is more or less a synonym of ‘offsetting’. It is used to define removing carbon emissions in one part of a company's business and claiming those removals to offset emissions in another part. ‘Insetting’ is essentially like offsetting, but without the external verification that is usually a requirement for carbon credits. The use of insetting is risky, as it potentially leads to double counting of reductions.
Reports have shown how Nestlé is over-claiming its emissions reductions potential between now and 2050 by 30 percent. On top of this, Nestlé’s 2050 Net Zero pledge covers only 80% of its 2018 footprint. Nestlé's methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more warming than CO2 over 20 years, are twice that of the whole livestock sector in Switzerland, and yet they are not sufficiently addressed in the plan and targeted specifically. The reporting style that Nestlé uses is also confusing, failing to break down where emissions are actually coming from and preventing proper scrutiny of progress.
Nestlé brands gone rogue
Despite Nestlé claiming they aren’t using carbon credits to offset emissions, its brands are. Several are claiming climate neutrality - which is at odds with Nestlé’s offset-free narrative. In fact, Nestlé brands such as Nespresso are in legal hot water over their use of offsets. It was found to be reducing only 5% of its emissions and offsetting the rest, despite claiming climate neutrality on product packaging. What’s more, an investigation by French documentary, Cash Investigation revealed that the trees planted through Nespresso’s rewilding scheme were regularly cut down and there was little to no scrutiny of the project and its impact.
A Blueprint for Combating Greenwashing
Wake up. Hold corporations accountable for their climate claims. End “net zero” and “carbon neutrality” claims over-reliant on false solutions, ambiguous targets and poor accounting.
Step up. Strengthen your strategies in line with the science. Slash real emissions, end your reliance on offsets, be transparent about your full carbon footprint, and join the call for proper accountability through regulation.
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