(Bloomberg) -- The vast majority of companies in the world’s major economies are failing to make climate pledges that can be measured against meaningful yardsticks, according to the Science Based Targets initiative.

The upshot of the group’s research is that, despite reams of corporate announcements professing to value sustainability, most business leaders aren’t walking the talk. Only a fifth of the more than 4,200 companies based in Group of 20 economies have signed up to science-based reporting, according to an SBTi report on Tuesday. 

“Setting self-defined emissions reductions targets won’t cut it,” Heidi Huusko, an SBTi executive, said in a statement. “Company targets must be rooted in science.”

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The SBTi -- a partnership of groups including the United Nations and the World Wide Fund for Nature that helps companies set emissions-reductions targets -- is shining a light on hollow climate pledges in the run-up to historic talks in Scotland in a little over a month. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November is increasingly viewed as a make-or-break moment for humanity to agree on an action plan to avert a climate disaster.

“We are facing the very real possibility that global temperatures will soon rise over the 1.5°C limit that science has determined will cause climate catastrophe,” Huusko said. “There is no time to lose.”

The SBTi study also found that:

  • G7 countries, led by the U.K. and France, have a higher proportion of companies whose climate targets are based on science –- 41% and 33% respectively.
  • Canada (17%), the U.S. (19%), Japan (19%) and Italy (19%) lag considerably behind the G7 average.
  • Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia -- some of the world’s heaviest emitters -- have no companies with approved science-based targets.
  • In the “G13” (non-G7 members of the G20), 1,216 companies have disclosed climate targets, with just 6% being science-based.
  • 33% of EU (incl. U.K.) companies’ climate targets are science-based –- above the G7 average of 25%. However, some major EU countries including Germany (21%) and Italy (19%) fall considerably below the EU and G7 average.

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