Official UN net zero by 2050 initiatives pranked by The Yes Men

(This release was originally published on the Glasgow Calls Out Polluters website, here.)

In another elaborate stunt, the Yes Men have got a fake company accepted as members of two official UN initiatives where companies set ‘science-based’ targets to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

The initiatives, which have played a central role in discourse at COP26, also include real companies like Maersk, Chevron, Halliburton, Delta, United, American, Heathrow, Edelman, JP Morgan, BAE Systems, Drax, Hitachi, Iberdrola, Unilever, and thousands more from the transport, mining, and fossil energy sectors that should definitely not be included.

To expose the real deceit of these initiatives and the companies that are part of it, the Yes Men invented the most ridiculous company they could imagine: one specialising in bespoke interior design for private jets. This company — which they cleverly called YASAVA, after a follower of a pre-modern Buddha ‘about whom nothing is known but his very good deeds’, in order to highlight the vapidity of the net-zero hype — was then accepted onto the Race to Zero Programme campaign and the Science-Based Targets Initiative.

‘It was hard to get ‘YASAVA’ accepted by these COP26 initiatives, but we played it cool and pulled all of our usual social-engineering feats in sequence — and boom, they were in,” said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. “I must say, in all the history of all our efforts, this was the first time we’d managed to get a fake company accepted at this extremely high level.’ 

The fake company’s ‘website’ features such phrases as: “An aircraft does not simply accommodate you: you wear it” and “You deserve to fly just the way you are”, amongst many other hilarious non-sequiturs. The fake press release meanwhile brags about how the company is able to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 — an obviously ludicrous assertion from a company that supposedly provides tailoring for elite corporate jets, but really no more ludicrous than the assertions of other, actually real companies like airports, fossil energy companies and fossil fuel financiers that are part of these COP26 associated initiatives.

The Race to Zero Programme and Science-Based Targets Initiative have drawn criticism for featuring companies such as Heathrow Airport (amongst other airport owners), COP26 sponsors SSE, Microsoft and Natwest, as well as Drax, the UK’s largest carbon emitter. This prank, campaigners say, provides a serious condemnation of the drive to reach net-zero by 2050.

“Finding out that YASAVA was actually created by The Yes Men made sense because this bespoke private jet interiors company was clearly too preposterous to be real. But yet this fantastical company passed the ‘science-based’ verification processes of these two net-zero initiatives being celebrated at COP26.” Alan Bell from Glasgow Calls Out Polluters said. “This should be a moment of profound embarrassment for COP26 and the corporate hype around net-zero. If the most ridiculous company imaginable can meet the flagship net-zero standard, then we should not take the concept of net-zero seriously at all.” 

Congratulations to the Yes Men on a hoax well done!



    • Alan Bell: +44 (0)141 4746646