'Average carbon footprint of Bel20 company equals annual emissions of poorest 34 per cent'
The average carbon footprint of companies in the Bel20, Belgium's benchmark stock market index, is equal to the annual emissions of the poorest 34 per cent of the country's population, a new report by Oxfam concludes. According to the NGO, it is time to take action.
Oxfam Belgium assessed the carbon footprint and climate strategies of 14 major listed companies to see their impact on the climate. The analysis shows that they have an average carbon footprint of 20.84 million tonnes of CO2 annually. This corresponds to the annual emissions of the poorest 34 per cent of Belgians, or 3.87 million people, Oxfam says. Four companies - KBC, AB InBev, Umicore and Solvay - even exceed this amount.
Climate pledges 'capricious'
To assess the climate impact of Bel20 companies, Oxfam also analysed their carbon footprint per euro of turnover. On average, the activities of these companies, excluding banks, are associated with emissions of 548 tonnes of CO2 per 1 million euros of turnover. The most emission-intensive companies operate in manufacturing, goods and consumer services, and information and communication technologies.
"While most large companies seem to see the need to take action against the climate crisis, few have an ambitious plan to do so"
Oxfam also scrutinised climate strategies these companies adopt. "It turns out that climate pledges are capricious, lack a common framework and open the door to greenwashing," says Julien Desiderio, policy officer at Oxfam Belgium. "While most large companies seem to see the need to take action against the climate crisis, few have an ambitious plan to do so."
National climate law
Oxfam is therefore calling for action at several levels. For instance, it wants the remuneration of senior executives in large companies to be linked to the achievement of the company's sustainability and climate goals and ambitions.
It also favours a wealth tax "on the richest people to reduce their emissions and raise billions of euros that can be used to fight inequality and support the most vulnerable countries in the brutal consequences of the climate crisis". Furthermore, Oxfam wants to see Belgium adopt a special national climate law to clearly define and frame its climate goals.
© PHOTO AFP / SEBASTIEN BOZON