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Illustration: Shira Ibar for Bloomberg Green

The Big Take

What Really Happens When Emissions Vanish

Companies say they’ve made climate progress. But the science says otherwise. Here’s how creative math has fueled corporate claims.

Many of the world’s largest companies are declaring breakneck progress in the fight against climate change. While their environmental handiwork shows up on paper, these gains often fail to materialize in the atmosphere.

Procter & Gamble Co. vowed to cut its heat-trapping emissions in half by 2030, before announcing it had surpassed its target a decade early. Cisco Systems Inc. recently said it had exceeded a goal to reduce its climate pollution by 60% over 15 years. Continental AG, the German tire and auto parts juggernaut, claimed it had slashed greenhouse gases by an astounding 70% in 2020.