'Net Zero' Exposed as a Total Sham - Just Look at Which Company Ranks No. 1


How farcical are so-called net zero rankings — the lists that determine which companies purportedly are doing the most to cut back on emissions?

Consider this: Atop the 2024 Forbes Net Zero Leaders is a company whose very name is synonymous with smoke, tar, addiction, environmental hazards and death.

The list, according to Forbes, is meant to “identify companies making the largest strides in offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Companies’ initiatives often go beyond reducing not only their own carbon emissions but also those of its power suppliers, vendors and customers,” the outlet said upon revealing the list last week.

“Firms were considered in the context of their industry and the location of business operations, as the challenges for oil and gas producers are vastly different than those for banks or hotel chains,” it said.

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Yes, well, maybe Forbes should have worked on that “context of their industry” thing a bit more. Let me quote from the news release from the No. 1 company in making strides toward “net zero” emissions:

“Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE: PM) has ranked first in Forbes’ 2024 Net Zero Leaders ranking, which highlights the 100 U.S. public companies best positioned to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

Philip. Morris. International.

Look, I’m not trying to cast aspersions on anyone’s personal decisions to smoke cigarettes, and I realize that Philip Morris has a somewhat diversified brand that doesn’t just include tobacco, but come on. It’s literally a brand associated with, above all else, 1) smoke, 2) nicotine addiction and 3) cancer.

Is “net zero” a scam?

According to the American Lung Association, more than 480,000 Americans die of smoking-related illnesses each year, and a further 41,000 die of secondhand smoke. Maybe that was a Malthusian bonus for Philip Morris in the judges’ eyes; many of those people won’t be contributing to greenhouse gas emissions due to some kind of fatal illness caused by its products. Thanks, Marlboro Reds!

“As we transform our company toward a smoke-free future, we strive to do so in the most sustainable way possible, including by leading in decarbonization,” Philip Morris CEO Jacek Olczak said in the news release.

“We are honored to be recognized by Forbes as the highest-ranked company among businesses at the forefront of working toward net zero,” Olczak said.

“We thank Forbes for its recognition of our efforts to tackle climate change as we remain steadfast in our commitment to accelerating progress toward a net zero future,” said Scott Coutts, a senior vice president at Philip Morris, before launching into a word salad of ESG nonsense that doesn’t get much better even if you know what it means:

“Reducing our scope 3 emissions will continue to be a priority. Our efforts will remain focused on reducing GHG emissions from our value chain as we continue progressing toward our SBTi-validated target to reach net zero emissions for scopes 1+2+3 by 2040.”

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Right. I mean, if the company’s customers last long enough to see any benefit.

It’s kind of hard to see past the fact that a company that’s known primarily for cigs is tops on the Forbes list, but it’s worth noting that the list seems to have rather dubious ranking criteria further down the charts.

No. 2 is Johnson & Johnson, and No. 3 is Tesla. I’m not a judge, so I’ll concede that potentially makes sense, especially with an electric carmaker. What makes less sense is three utility companies in the top 10; while I understand the context inherent in the rankings, it’s kind of a slap in the face to ESG orthodoxy to put fossil-fuel burners up so high.

Also of note, No. 12 is Microsoft, a company that’s gone all-in on AI to the extent that it’s now practically integrated with the latest version of the Windows operating system. As numerous outlets prone to climate alarmism have noted, the data centers that power AI use an outsized amount of energy — “as much energy as a small country,” Vox declared in a March article.

In short, this is all a pile of bunkum.

Far be it from me or any other conservative to shame personal choice or human advancement in the quixotic pursuit of “net zero emissions.” As far as I’m concerned, you can smoke a half-a-pack of Benson & Hedges while overloading ChatGPT with frivolous queries to your sclerotic little heart’s content; as long as humanity makes smart energy decisions going forward and you take responsibility for what you’re doing to your health, I have no truck with this.

However, where my problem begins is when organizations and publications pretend they’re unusually concerned about ESG ratings or “net zero” rankings — and then cigarette makers, utilities and tech companies litter the plaudits lists.

This is a green scheme with no regard for human life, full stop. There’s no other way to explain it.

As the saying goes, you can fool some of the people all of the time. Those people apparently work for Forbes. The rest of us can simply look at which company took the top spot in this charade and close the browser tab, safe in the knowledge we’re not missing anything.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture