A bold plan, or blatant greenwash?

Tomorrow's Business

BP today set out its “ambition for net zero by 2050” a move that will involve “fundamentally changing our organisation”.

We wrote about it,everyone will.

The immediate reaction in the newsroom was the predictable one: that 2050 is so far into the future as to be meaningless. And that BP, since it is an oil giant, can’t really be sincere about its goal.

The statement itself is a bit wishy-washy in parts. BP will “aim to be recognised as a leader”, staff will be “further incentivised to deliver aims”, there will be “three integrators to identify and maximise opportunities”. Uh-huh.

Friends of the Earth responded quickly, calling the plans “inadequate and cynical”. And the name of the new BP boss is an unfortunate gift to headline writers.

Here’s the thing: I think BP is absolutely sincere in its aims. And that the CEO isn’t actually a loony.

I think most big companies are now genuine about the environment and other “woke” topics, if only because they realise their customers are dead serious about them.

The challenge is that we are used to regarding such moves as insincere, as greenwash, as putting, if I may, lipstick on a pig.

I think flaks need to work quite hard to persuade us otherwise. And that the language used will be key. It needs to be as free of ill-defined jargon as possible. And the targets need to be ones we can measure. Starting with how the CEO’s remuneration is structured.

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