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One-third of the UK's biggest brands do not publish data on their carbon emissions

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Google, McDonalds and Amazon dodge carbon disclosure

Ecologist

25th November, 2009

Survey of whether UK's biggest brands are reducing their carbon emissions finds more greenwash than progress

Some of the UK's biggest brands, including Amazon, Google and McDonalds are failing to either report or set targets for reducing their carbon emissions.

A survey, conducted by the University of Edinburgh Business School and ENDS Carbon, found that 121 out of 600 brands, including Tesco, T-Mobile and Dell were reducing their emissions and had set targets in line with the Government's Copenhagen target of a 34 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2020.

The majority of this progress had been achieved through energy efficiency measures, re-designing of logistics operations such as delivery systems, and sourcing green electricity.

However, 400 out of 600 brands surveyed were either increasing their emissions, had weaker targets than the Government target or refused to publish data on their carbon emissions.

Greenwash

Rachael Stilwell, publisher at Marketing Magazine, which is promoting the findings, said brands could no longer get away with bland statements on being green.

'It is no longer enough to have a statement of intent on carbon reduction. Year-on-year the Brand Emissions survey will track progress against the Government's goals...these results will become an important reputational milestone for brands,' she said.

Google is one of the brands that refuses to publish any data on its carbon emissions. A spokesperson for the company said: 'We do not give out information about our carbon footprint because we don't want to provide information to our competitors regarding the size of our operational infrastructure.'

Dr Craig Mackenzie from the University of Edinburgh Business School said it was impossible to evaluate Google without the published data.

'If Google's customers and investors are not bothered then fair enough. There is no law. But without the data we cannot possibly evaluate the progress they say they are making,' he said.

Google said it was already carbon neutral through offsetting its emissions.

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