One-quarter of companies with science-based net-zero targets are choosing not to publicise them, or “green hushing”, according to a new report by South Pole, a Swiss carbon finance consultancy.

The research, which was published on 18 October 2022, finds 75% of 1,200 surveyed companies have increased their net-zero investments.

However, nearly a third (29%) of polled companies said they found the delivery of their net-zero strategy to be more difficult than initially expected. Companies not on track to meet their net-zero targets said they plan to increase spending on up-skilling teams (66%) or hiring more internal staff (59%).

Numerous businesses worldwide established net-zero goals and publicised them in the run-up to COP26 last year, notes South Pole. Corporate ambition has not waned since, based on the report’s finding that companies continue to set net-zero targets and increase budgets accordingly.

Yet ahead of COP27 this November, businesses’ increased reluctance to publicise science-aligned climate ambitions raises questions, says South Pole.

“[Green hushing] makes corporate climate targets harder to scrutinise and limits knowledge-sharing on decarbonisation, potentially leading to less ambitious targets being set, and [targets being] missed,” write the authors of the report.

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“Our 2022 Net Zero report finds an emerging contradiction between companies’ ambition staying high, but their voices going quiet,” added Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole. “This is concerning, as we need businesses across the world to be speaking openly about what’s behind their net-zero targets. Goal setting alone is not enough, especially when there are still so many businesses out there who are yet to set company targets – ideally ones that are aligned with science.”