Greenwashing or real commitment? Introducing our climate pledge rating

Our mission at Ecosia isn’t just about enabling you to plant trees with your searches — it’s about helping you make more informed decisions for the climate in your everyday life. We make it easier for you to be climate active while navigating the many claims made by governments and companies around the world.

We’ve just added a new badge to our results, rating the climate pledges of the most searched-for companies on Ecosia. It’s the latest of our climate-focused features, so before we go into more detail, here’s a quick walk through of those to date.

In 2019, we added two icons to some of our search results: the green leaf, for particularly climate-friendly organizations, and the coal plant, highlighting results that have a strong negative impact on the environment. Results that get the green leaf are based on assessments by ecological labels such as Hilfswerft and Economy for the Common Good. Organizations can’t pay to have a leaf, so they’re not ads! A lot of them are certified B Corporation members, like us.

The coal plant is assigned to results that match Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List: a catalog of 746 companies that mine or transport coal, supply mining machines, search for new mines, or sell this dirty energy. The icon also appears next to the world’s most destructive fossil fuel companies, based on research from the Climate Accountability Institute and The Guardian.

Next, we introduced a feature rating a country’s climate impact and their contribution to the global goal of staying within 1.5°C of warming. Search for a country and you’ll see a scale which draws from the rating system of the Climate Action Tracker, giving you an idea of which governments are doing enough to fight the climate crisis.

So what’s our newest green search feature, the climate pledge rating, about? Now that being sustainable has become a trend, it can be difficult to navigate the climate commitments of major brands, find relevant information, and distinguish between greenwashing and actual improvements. That’s why we’ve created a rating from A to F together with the Technical University Berlin, which evaluates a company’s publicly available response to the climate crisis, such as a pledge to reduce or offset emissions, and looks at how likely it is to become carbon neutral by 2030. We’ve focused on the most-searched companies and their umbrella brands — after all, the Carbon Disclosure Project reported in 2017 that just 100 companies cause 70% of emissions!

But far from making you feel guilty for clicking on a result with a low rating, we want to make the information about major climate pledges more accessible to you, and hopefully encourage you to call out your favorite brands so they do more for the climate.

We believe in holding emitters accountable. We’re here to build greener, more transparent tech, and give you the tools to navigate the increasingly complex landscape of climate pledges. Stay tuned as we add more elements to this feature in the coming months!