Wed. Apr 1st, 2020

A green showcase for polluting companies | Society


The apparent paradox did not escape anyone visiting the COP: two of the ten companies that emitted the most greenhouse gases in 2018 in Spain were high-level sponsors of the Climate Summit held in December in Madrid, Endesa and Iberdrola. Large multinationals took advantage of the event to promote their green commitment. “Don’t buy Coca-Cola,” read the slogan with which the beverage brand covered the city’s canopies with red. Below, in smaller print, it read: “If we are not going to recycle together.”

It was COP 25 a showcase for large companies to do what is known as greenwashing or green face wash? Ecological organizations think so, and they agree with them the criticisms of anonymous citizens on social networks. Companies defend themselves and ensure that their emission reduction policy and their environmental commitment are firm. Coca-Cola, for example, ensures that in 2022 PET plastic containers in Spain will contain 50% recycled PET. They currently have 25%.

Coca-Cola advertising during the summit in Madrid.


Coca-Cola advertising during the summit in Madrid.

For Ecologists in Action, the COP has been a “paradigmatic case of green laundering” of companies that “incur a very evident conflict of interests”. On the one hand, explains its spokesman, Yago Martínez, for his “enormous interests in fossil fuels, either because they are energy companies, or because they are banks such as Santander or BBVA, which invest in them billions of euros” . The sponsorship, he adds, “gives them the opportunity to present themselves as green companies, simply because they are associated with a climate summit.” And he adds that thanks to that economic contribution they have visibility (stands own, conference spaces …) far superior to that of civil society. “The weight of these multinationals, at a summit where governments meet to negotiate, is disproportionate,” he emphasizes.

The Ministry of Ecological Transition did not clarify, at the request of EL PAÍS, how much each sponsor contributed to the appointment. In total, of the 50 million euros that the summit cost, the sponsors contributed 20%.


Companies with more emissions of

greenhouse gases

The ten most polluting companies add the 25.3% of the total CO2 emissions

Emissions

in 2018

in millions of

tons

% on

the total

from

Spain

Endesa

Repsol-Petronor

Naturgy

EDP

Arcelormittal

Cepsa

Viesgo

Iberdrola

Cemex

LafargeHolcim

9.3%

3.3%

2.8%

2.7%

1.8%

1.4%

1.2%

1.0%

0.9%

0.9%

Source: Sustainability Observatory.

Companies with more gas emissions

Greenhouse in Spain

The ten most polluting companies add the 25.3% of the total CO2 emissions

% respect

to the total of

Spain

Emissions in 2018

in millions of tons

Endesa

Repsol-Petronor

Naturgy

EDP

Arcelormittal

Cepsa

Viesgo

Iberdrola

Cemex

LafargeHolcim

9.3%

3.3%

2.8%

2.7%

1.8%

1.4%

1.2%

1.0%

0.9%

0.9%

Source: Sustainability Observatory.

Companies with more emissions of

greenhouse gases

The ten most polluting companies add the 25.3% of the total CO2 emissions

Emissions

in 2018

in millions of

tons

% on

the total

from

Spain

Endesa

Repsol-Petronor

Naturgy

EDP

Arcelormittal

Cepsa

Viesgo

Iberdrola

Cemex

LafargeHolcim

9.3%

3.3%

2.8%

2.7%

1.8%

1.4%

1.2%

1.0%

0.9%

0.9%

Source: Sustainability Observatory.

A green showcase for polluting companies



The concept of greenwashing It comes from the seventies, “when the first waves of environmental awareness begin to occur,” explains Ignasi Carreras, a professor in the Department of General Management and Strategy at Esade, and a member of its Institute for Social Innovation. “Companies understood that they had to give a positive image even if their actions were not up to par,” he adds. Then there was no Internet or social networks. That’s why Carreras says that now more is spoken about greenwashing. But also that “it is more difficult to do it” because it is easier to know the commitments of companies and check if they are realistic and fulfilled.

Greenwashing It is when someone presumes and does nothing, ”complains sources of an energy company. From another of them they point to oil companies, chemists and car manufacturers who, they say, “are the ones that are hindering the process and washing their image. That’s why they don’t sponsor or support the COP, because they don’t want changes. ”

“By 2022 we will not have coal; it will be replaced by renewables, ”says a spokeswoman for Endesa, who adds that they will invest 7,000 million euros in shares for the weather until that year. Endesa is, with almost 31 million tons, the Spanish company that emitted the most CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018 (9% of the total), according to a report from the Sustainability Observatory published just before the COP. The company says that in 2005 it emitted 50 million tons and that in 2019 they have dropped from 20 million.

Iberdrola, the eighth company with more emissions in Spain, says it has already closed 15 coal and oil plants and has communicated its intention to close the last two coal remaining, both in Spain. “Iberdrola is committed to reducing its intensity of CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020 – objective already achieved – and by 50% by 2030 with respect to its 2007 levels,” says a spokesman who, he says, already It is the main power company in the world without coal generation.

The economist Gregorio Martín de Castro, Professor of Strategy and Sustainable Business at the Complutense University and author of studies on this phenomenon, believes that “there is part of greenwashing”In the deployment of large companies in the COP. He distinguishes between several levels in this practice: “From deliberately lying or hiding bad environmental results and communicating them as if they were positive to trying to minimize them with green advertising, and I think this is the case.” Companies are more likely to do so, he adds, when they are in highly polluting sectors and have high visibility.

Carreras notes that, with the current awareness of the climatic emergency, almost all companies are forced to exhibit a public commitment. An example of greenwashing it would consist of committing to have zero impact, but in 2050. “It is so long term that it is a toast to the sun,” he says. It is important to distinguish, he adds, between cosmetic statements and authentic process transformations. And he gives two examples of success: that of Nike, “which radically changed the design of its products”, and that of a company called Interface, a world leader in carpet manufacturing. “In 1995, it promised to have an impact 0 in 2020 and has complied. They have promised that in 2040 their production will be able to sequester carbon at a high level and they are already working on a prototype, ”he adds.

The interests of banks in fossil fuels

Another expert from a large Spanish consultant, who asks not to be cited, mentions the banks and their interests in fossil fuels. Two large Spanish entities, Santander and BBVA, committed during the COP to be carbon neutral in 2020 in their daily activity. That is, their offices will have carbon dioxide emissions equal to zero, either because they do not emit them or because they compensate them.

A report recently published by the NGO BankTrack and endorsed by another 163 organizations around the world revealed that 33 large banks have financed 1.9 billion dollars to different companies in the fossil fuel sector since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. These include BBVA and Santander

Asked about the financing of coal and oil, BBVA responds that its “total exposure to fossil fuels over all assets is 3.67%”. He adds that more than not financing certain clients, what he does is “help them to work on the transition to other more sustainable models”.

Santander emphasizes that it occupies the 31st position in absolute terms and the last position (33 of 33) with regard to the weight on the total portfolio. He adds that he is “one of the world leaders in financing sustainable projects, having mobilized about 50,000 million euros in the last three years.”

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