In a review of 25 companies that promised to achieve “carbon neutrality,” or to become “carbon-free,” within the decades of 2030, 2040, or 2050, almost none of them are on track to achieve those goals, according to the NewClimate Institute and Carbon Market Watch.

“We set out to uncover as many replicable good practices as possible, but we were frankly surprised and disappointed at the overall integrity of the companies’ claims,” said Thomas Day, lead author of the assessment. “Even companies that are doing relatively well exaggerate their actions.”

Not one company received a high integrity assessment.

A NewClimate Institute and Carbon Market Watch assessment found three companies to have moderate integrity with their pledges, which included Apple and Sony.

Apple’s goals are to “achieve carbon neutrality for our entire carbon footprint by 2030,” and to reach a “science-based emissions reduction target” by creating “products with net-zero carbon impact by 2030.” The tech giant said its gas and electrical emissions have fallen by 73% since 2011.

Apple's claims cover "solely its operations, business travel, and employee commuting, which together account for only 1.5% of the company’s [greenhouse gas] footprint.” The assessment concludes that the company’s current plans only represent a 62% reduction in emissions, and while impressive, that is not net-zero or carbon neutral.

“Apple’s emission reduction plans are reasonably comprehensive and already led to a significant decrease in emissions in recent years, although we did not identify far-reaching solutions,” the assessment noted.

Ten companies had a low integrity rating: Amazon, Deutsche Telekom, Google, Ikea, Volkswagen, and Walmart were among the 10 with low integrity.

Amazon founded The Climate Pledge in 2019, which aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across their businesses by 2040 that other companies can sign on to. The e-commerce company has also claimed to be on the path to power their “operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.” It has also made headlines for investing in renewable energy, claiming that by 2020 it will become “the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy.”

However, their low integrity rating suggests that Amazon was ineffective in achieving its goals. Their pledge is “unsubstantiated” because of under-reporting and gaps in their reporting. Still, Amazon is investing in a lot of green alternatives and initiatives, though indications about their own plans to achieve net carbon neutrality remain unclear.

“The company’s net-zero carbon by 2040 pledge remains unsubstantiated with no explicit reduction target for the company’s own emissions,” the assessment reads.

Google became the first major company to become carbon neutral “since 2007,” running on 100% renewable energy. However, “only 67% of their electricity use in 2020 was matched on an hourly basis with regional carbon-free sources.” Google's parent company, Alphabet, has now set the goal of becoming completely carbon-free by 2030. Still, the assessment gave the search engine and tech company a low-reliability rating.

Google does acknowledge that “moving towards carbon-free by 2030 won’t be easy,” but considering what Google has made public about their plans, it is “unclear” what is meant by “carbon-free.” Carbon-free “may only apply to renewable electricity generation and procurement,” and not to the entirety of Google’s operation.

“The net-zero target applies explicitly to all emissions across the value chain, but we could not identify any further details, such as a specific target for emission reductions, or the potential role of offsetting,” the assessment noted about Google.

The rest of the 12 companies’ pledges assessed had very low integrity: BMW Group, CVS Health, Nestle, and Unilever were among those who ranked at the bottom for the lack of integrity in their pledges.

As one of the companies that ranked low on the list, CVS Health acknowledges that “the health of our environment is inextricably linked to human health,” and wants to be a part of helping “transform the health” of the planet. According to the Wall Street Journal, CVS set a goal of halving its “carbon emission from goods and services it buys by 2030.”

According to NewClimate and Carbon Market Watch, the healthcare and pharmaceutical company has a problem with “apparent lack of direction is aligned with the insufficient identification of emission reduction measures.” In fact, “CVS Health’s emission reduction targets for 2030 would result in higher emissions in 2030 compared to 2018 or 2020 levels.”

“Misleading advertisements by companies have real impacts on consumers and policymakers. We’re fooled into believing that these companies are taking sufficient action, when the reality is far from it . . .Without more regulation, this will continue,” said Giles Dufrasne of Carbon Market Watch on the assessment.

As the climate crisis continues to worsen, the goalpost is constantly changing, and as the climate crisis’ biggest contributors, companies, along with global policies, need to evolve in achieving their promises.