Leading activists call for urgent ‘real-zero’ climate action

Glasgow, Scotland – At the halfway point of COP26, leading Indigenous, environmental and human rights NGOs are criticising the focus on ‘net-zero’ targets due to their over-reliance on offsetting scams and unproven technology. 

At an official event on the side-lines of the climate negotiations in Glasgow, Greenpeace International, Amnesty International, ActionAid International, Global Witness, Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB), and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) are calling for governments and businesses to stop the greenwashing and climate delay, and instead adopt ‘real-zero’ climate action policies with detailed plans.

Teresa Anderson, Climate Policy Coordinator at ActionAid International said:

​​”Governments and corporations are clamouring to release net zero climate pledges at COP26. But these announcements are a parade of pretence, not a plan for real transformation.

“Too many of these net zero targets rely on carbon offsetting to avoid real emission cuts, providing a convenient smokescreen to hide climate inaction. But growing demand for offsets will drive land grabs for new tree plantations. There isn’t enough available land on the planet to offset the pollution hiding in thousands of net zero pledges, and too many hopes rest on long-shot technologies that will probably never work. To have a chance of averting climate catastrophe, we need to see real transformation, and emissions brought down to real zero.”

Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:

 “Net zero targets create the false illusion that governments are dealing with the climate crisis. In reality, the focus on net zero is nothing more than a delay tactic which is getting in the way of the real solution – zero emissions. Moreover, many offsetting and carbon removal projects – used to meet net zero targets – result in human rights violations of Indigenous peoples and local communities, especially in the global South.

“Net zero doesn’t cut it. Wealthy industrialised countries must reach zero emissions much earlier than 2050 to avoid putting an excessive burden on the most climate-vulnerable countries. This is not simply a humanitarian issue, it’s a legal obligation.”

Seema Joshi, Director of Campaigns at Global Witness said: ‘’The biggest polluters are using net-zero promises to delay climate action. Far-off voluntary targets and pledges to somehow offset their impacts in the future are distractions which they hope will allow them to continue to expand production of fossil fuels. Net-zero is not zero – if we are to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown, we need the big emitters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now’’.

Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International Executive Director said:

“The corporations and governments that want to avoid slashing emissions now while sounding responsible, love net zero targets. Offsets do not prevent emissions from entering the atmosphere and heating our climate, in fact they may even lead to increased emissions. What they do allow is for an accounting trick whereby emissions are taken off the ledger of polluters. 

People power is pushing justice and action, and we are winning. Voluntary moves and commitments are not enough. It’s time for governments and corporations to try harder: cut the greenwash and skip scams, and focus on real-zero climate action plans.”


ActionAid International – Jenna Pudelek, [email protected], +447795642990

Amnesty International – Jess Owen, [email protected] 

Global Witness – Louis Wilson, [email protected], +44 7341 663 976

Greenpeace – Martin Zavan, [email protected], +61 424 295 422

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