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Investors Can Now Police Net-Zero Claims With This New Tool

Science Based Targets initiative will provide independent assessment of whether corporate climate plans align with Paris agreement goals

Photographer: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

As corporations have churned out net-zero CO2 pledges, investors have so far had little hope of holding them to account. That’s about to change.

The Science Based Targets initiative, a widely respected framework for certifying corporate climate policies, is introducing a Net Zero Standard to provide an “independent assessment of corporate net-zero target setting.” That means there’s now a tool that can reveal whether the growing list of companies — 600 and counting — that are promising net-zero emissions by mid-century actually have credible plans to reach that goal.

The standard is intended to make sure companies can run their businesses in a way that’s compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. An initial cohort of seven firms -- including CVS Health Corp., cement maker Holcim Ltd. and Orsted A/S, the world’s biggest developer of offshore wind farms -- has had its net-zero targets verified by the SBTi, according to a statement on Thursday.