We need to cut emissions to zero in absolute terms, not net zero.

There’s an urgent need to mitigate the damage already done to the planet and ecology to try now to minimise the consequent heat, fires and floods, but also to adapt how we live so as to stop keeping on making it worse.

I think most of us understand that and are making individual efforts to eat more plant-based food, use less plastic and make fewer car journeys.

The problem is we are part of an economic system that is very profitable for the multinational companies and there is no incentive for them or the politicians who support them to stop the unsustainable expansion on a finite planet.

This is where their greenwashing advertising comes in, with the aim of coaxing us to buy more, and to believe that governments and big companies are sincere about reducing carbon emissions and avoiding massive famines and wars about resources.

Ham & High: Dorothea Hackman explains what 'greenwashing' isDorothea Hackman explains what 'greenwashing' is (Image: Archant)

But first, what is greenwashing? It is promoting a business as green on the basis of a few token actions while they carry on with business as usual. Spending more money on greenwashing marketing than really changing to less damaging practices.

Most of the people attending the Net Zero Festival in Islington last week genuinely wanted to learn how to reduce emissions, so the “not zero” protest by local XR groups was educational.

And secondly, why is it ironic of Coca-Cola to sponsor a net-zero festival?

As Plastic Rebellion was able to point out at the festival, Coca-Cola is yet again the annual biggest plastic producer, according to campaign group Surfers Against Sewage, with only a tiny percentage ever recycled.

Most plastic goes to landfill in poorer countries, is incinerated (skyfill toxins), or ends up in our oceans, beginning to outnumber the fish. We need to stop the manufacture of plastic, it is a petro-carbon and a big part of the pollution problem.

Offsetting means doing the damage anyway, but also doing something less damaging as an excuse.

It would be better to stop flying, particularly private jets. But there is not enough room on the planet for the trees the multinationals have promised to plant. And stop transporting food vast distances - pollution from shipping also needs reducing. We can’t be paying for continuing pollution instead of preventing it.

Some firms hope there will be technology that will mean they can continue business as usual. Currently though, it is experimental and might be ready in 15 years' time. The ship has sailed, we need action now. Carbon capture technology does not exist on a large scale. We need to invest in green energy and retrofitting existing buildings.

The people attending the advertising agency PRWeek awards ceremony on October 18 welcomed the information from cleancreatives.org/f-list about which fossil fuel companies were supported. For example, Havas has contracts with BP and Shell, and unexpectedly hosted a theatrical die-in protest earlier this month.

A good action for businesses to consider to make real change happen is to switch their bank from the big funders of climate chaos to a greener bank, which can be done at switchit.green.

  • Dorothea Hackman is chair of Camden Civic Society.