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Tree-planting search engine will now show you whether busineses are the real deal or greenwashers

The not-for-profit search engine is adding a feature that will rate the climate pledges of major corporations.
The not-for-profit search engine is adding a feature that will rate the climate pledges of major corporations.   -   Copyright  Vitor Monthay   -  
By Rebecca Ann Hughes

Search engine Ecosia has added a new feature on its site to help users understand the climate commitments of major businesses.

The not-for-profit browser will put a rating next to some of the most searched companies on the site including Amazon, Meta and Spotify.

This rating looks at the climate commitments of each organisation compared to the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The search engine hopes to give users a clearer insight into how individual companies are fighting the climate crisis.

What is Ecosia?

Ecosia was founded in 2009 and is now the world’s largest not-for-profit search engine.

The tech company claims it dedicates 100 per cent of its profits to the planet and has collaborated with local communities across the world to plant more than 160 million trees.

The organisation also says it is introducing 20 year contracts to ensure its trees are looked after long-term.

What is Ecosia’s climate pledge rating?

Ecosia’s new feature update will add a climate pledge rating when users search for major businesses.

“This is part of the company's mission to enable its user base to be climate active every day,” the company said in a statement.

“Global companies know they must publish regular sustainability reports and updates, but so often the reality of their impact is wrapped up in jargon, or hidden entirely,” says Michael Metcalf, Ecosia’s Chief Product Officer.

The rating aims to make the climate commitments of these businesses more transparent for users.

The Berlin-based company also said the feature would help highlight any greenwashing statements.

How is the climate pledge rating calculated?

Ecosia teamed up with Technische Universität (TU) in Berlin to develop their climate rating system.

It uses machine learning to analyse the ecological and social sustainability of different companies. Open climate commitments of each business, such as pledges to reduce or offset emissions, or sustainability reports, are taken into account.

The highest rating of A identifies companies that demonstrate year-on-year reductions in their overall emissions and ambitious climate pledges.

The lowest rating, F, is for businesses that aren’t making progress towards their climate targets, do not have any publicly available information or are actively misleading the public.

The tool will re-evaluate climate pledges regularly so the ratings are expected to change as businesses adapt their practices.

The new feature expands on Ecosia’s green leaf icon, launched in 2019, that appears next to websites of planet-friendly companies.

The search engine is also launching a much-requested Dark Mode. This aims to reduce eye strain and improve battery life.

It will also introduce a Mental Health Widget that will appear as an information box at the top of the page. This will have a phone number and link to a partner organisation such as Samaritans in the UK.