Quantcast
Climate

10 Food Company CEOs Tell World Leaders to Act on Climate

With key international climate negotiations fast approaching in Paris, the CEOs of Mars, Incorporated, General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg Company, Nestlé USA, New Belgium Brewing, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farm and Dannon USA released a joint letter yesterday to U.S. and world leaders pledging to accelerate business action on climate change and urging governments to do the same by forging a robust international agreement this December.

Coordinated by the nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization Ceres, the letter was spotlighted today at a bipartisan, bicameral briefing on climate change in Washington, DC featuring a half-dozen food company executives. The briefing was sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY).

“Climate change is bad for farmers and agriculture. Drought, flooding and hotter growing conditions threaten the world’s food supply and contribute to food insecurity,” states the letter, which will appear in today’s Washington Post and Financial Times. “As world leaders convene in Paris you will have an opportunity to take action on climate change that could significantly change our world for the better.”

“It’s extraordinary to see these iconic food companies, many of which are long-standing competitors, unite at this pivotal moment to urge our political leaders to act swiftly and decisively on global warming, which poses a direct threat to global food supplies,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres.

CEO signatories pledged to boost their companies’ sustainability efforts, to advocate achievable, enforceable science-based carbon reduction targets and to share their best practices to encourage other companies to join their effort.

Mars President and CEO Grant Reid said, “As a society we face immense challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and deforestation. We cannot stand back and simply accept these things as they are. We’re calling on the business community and global leaders to work together to set a new way forward. We can and must, do more.”

“Climate change is a shared, global challenge that is best addressed at scale,” added Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills. “To reduce emission levels, we must work across our collective value chains with growers, suppliers, customers, peer companies, government leaders and industry partners. Together, we will identify new solutions and promote sustainable agriculture practices that drive emission reductions.”

Companies signing the letter are members of Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of companies working with policymakers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. It is the first time these businesses have publicly united on the need for a strong global climate deal at the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as “COP21.” Governments of more than 190 nations will meet in Paris this December at COP21 to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change aimed at keeping global warming below the 2C threshold.

The most recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that climate change is already cutting into global food supplies and is contributing to price spikes and social unrest in various regions of the world. The rate of increase in crop yields is slowing, especially for wheat, which is sensitive to changes in heat. By 2030 negative impacts are expected across a wide spectrum of crops in both arid and non-arid regions. Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns could lead to food price rises of between 3 percent and 84 percent by 2050, according to the IPCC.

Read page 1

“The debate in Congress on climate change has been filled for too long with misinformation and partisan talking points,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “Today marks an important shift, as both Democrats and Republicans come together to listen to major food and beverage companies discuss how they are adapting to this global threat. I hope we will be able to build on today’s discussion and begin working toward bipartisan climate solutions in Congress.”

“Environmental stewardship through public-private cooperation is critical to the long term success of our nation as well as the stability and health of our global and regional environments,” said Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19). “It is a privilege to join with business leaders from across the country and globe in this discussion to explore ways forward on this issue.”

Many of the companies have set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and driving sustainable sourcing in their supply chains. Mars, Unilever and Nestlé, for example, have each pledged to achieve 100 percent renewable energy across their operations, through RE100, a global initiative to engage, support and showcase influential companies committed to using 100 percent renewable power that now involves more than 30 companies globally.

Additionally:

  • Mars has set numerical, science-based goals to steer its sustainability programs, including the effort to eliminate all fossil fuel use from its operations by 2040. The company is on track to achieve a 25 percent reduction in its carbon emissions by the end of 2015, in comparison to 2007. Mars recently invested in a 211-megawatt wind power farm in Texas that completely offsets all of the electricity used by its U.S. operations.
  • Launched in 2010, the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan aims to decouple the company's growth from environmental impact. Unilever has set a goal to halve the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of its products across the lifecycle by 2020. Its approach focuses on five areas: (1) acting on climate change by eliminating deforestation, (2) innovating products that use less GHG-intensive materials and that help consumers save energy in use, (3) reducing emissions in manufacturing and pursuing energy efficiency in factories and offices, (4) reducing transport emissions in distribution operations and (5) moving to renewable energy and more sustainable forms of biofuels.
  • Nestlé has set targets to reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions per ton of product by 35 percent since 2005, by 2015.
  • General Mills recently announced a commitment to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent across its full value chain—from farm to fork to landfill—over the next 10 years. The commitment was calculated using science-based methodology to achieve a level of emission reductions that science suggests is necessary to sustain the health of the planet.
  • Kellogg Company’s comprehensive 2020 Sustainability goals include expanding use of low-carbon energy in its plants by 50 percent and reducing energy and GHG emissions in our plants by an additional 15 percent (per metric tonne of food produced) from 2015 performance.

“Kellogg Company understands that in order to meet the food needs of a growing world population, we must be proactive in addressing climate change,” said John Bryant, chairman and CEO of Kellogg Company. “That starts with our farmers, extends through our entire supply chain and includes collaborative efforts with our peers, such as this critical, joint call to action.”

“Global weather patterns affect crop yields, water availability and infrastructure integrity. These changes impact the business we do every day as well as the work of farmers, suppliers and distributors across our vast network of partners," said Paul Grimwood, chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA. "Nestlé intends to flourish for at least another 150 years and we believe tackling climate change is key to a healthy planet and healthy people.”

“The cruel irony of climate change is that people in the developing world, many of whom grow the ingredients we use in our products, are the least able to adapt to climate change and will pay the steepest price for a problem they had no part in creating,” said Ben and Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim. “Today’s statement signals that our industry is committed to working towards solutions that deliver a stable climate and ensure the future success of our businesses and the communities around the world that supply them.”

“Bold action on climate change is urgently needed and simply makes good business sense,” said Paul Polman CEO of Unilever. “We are deepening our efforts to create transformational change to eliminate deforestation and working to lower our greenhouse gas impact. Businesses have a responsibility to act but we can’t do it alone. Consistent and credible government policy signals are essential, which is why we are urging political leaders to take action.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

146 Countries Covering Almost 87% of Global Emissions Submit Climate Plans Ahead of Paris

Wales and Bulgaria Latest to Join Massive EU Wave of GMO Bans

Monsanto Sued by Farm Workers Claiming Roundup Caused Their Cancers

Watch Live Oct. 11: Vandana Shiva and Others Discuss GMOs and Food Justice

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
The Revelator

Interactive Map: Air Pollution in 2100

By Dipika Kadaba

Having a little trouble breathing lately? That's no surprise. Air pollution is already bad in many parts of the country, and climate change is only going to make it worse. Even though many industries are reducing their emissions, a warming climate could actually offset these reductions by intensifying the rates of chemical reactions and accumulation of pollutants in the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Residents stand in a long queue to fill water containers on May 27 in Shimla, India. Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times / Getty Images

World Peace Requires Access to Safe Water

International Peace Day is Sept. 21. Mekela Panditharatne, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted the following op-ed to EcoWatch in commemoration.

In drought-ravaged East Africa, the cracks in the plains echo the fault lines splitting tribes.

Across the globe, the devastation of deadly brawls is being exacerbated by tensions over access to water. Water crises, often worsened by governance failures, can portend warning signs for instability and conflict. This year, the World Resources Institute cautioned that water stress is growing globally, "with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040." The effects of such water stress span the gamut from civil unrest to open warfare.

Keep reading... Show less
Food

How Your Personality Type Could Influence Your Food Choices

By Melissa Kravitz

"You are what you eat" may be one of the oldest sayings ever to be repeated around the dinner table, but can you also eat what you are?

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!