A letter signed by the CEOs of 13 different food and beverage companies, including Unilever, Mars, Danone, Kellogg and Ben & Jerry’s reads “Unchecked, agricultural emissions will outstrip reductions from decarbonising the economy elsewhere, pushing us beyond the 2% limit. Agriculture-related emissions could take up the entire global greenhouse gas emissions budget by 2050.”
“A food system already under pressure will become destabilised, placing livelihoods, farming communities, agricultural supply chains and consumers at risk. Food price shocks will increase as climate impact on yields become more acute.”
Whilst the letter does not explicitly mention Donald Trump, it comes amid fears the president-elect will remove the US from COP22 following statements that he believes climate change to be a Chinese conspiracy aimed at making US manufacturing "non-competitive".
He has repeatedly referred to climate change as a hoax and spoken against the ‘totalitarian tactics’ of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Besides calling on leaders to help meet the targets of the agreement, the companies restated pledges made last year to: halve food loss and waste in order to reduce carbon emissions and improve incomes; eliminate deforestation; improve soil management to cut carbon dioxide output and reclaim unused land to increase overall food production.
In 2015 Danone released a company climate policy report stating its aim to reach zero net carbon emissions by 2050. A spokesperson told us: “Being a food company means we rely on nature, agriculture and the farmers to do our job. Therefore climate change is a particular concern for us, especially since this has a significant impact on the natural cycles which play a vital role in the food system…"
The Mars company said it decided to attend the COP22 in order “to join the dialogue and share best practices with our industry partners. At the same time, we used the opportunity to urge the business community and global leaders to take bold action to implement the targets agreed to last year in Paris for tackling climate change. Progress has been made, but there is much more to do.”
Mars also announced its plans to open a new wind farm in Mexico expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25,000 tons, and “provide renewable electricity power to all five of our plants in that country”. This follows similar wind energy schemes in US and UK.
In addition to the recent commitments made at COP22 in Marrakesh in Morocco, Mars and Danone have joined with ingredient manufacturer Firminech as part of the Livelihoods campaign. It has invested €40m with the aim of sequestering 10m tons of CO2 over a 20 year period, planting 130m trees and funding numerous sustainability projects in Africa.
‘Livelihoods Funds Agriculture Adaptation Africa Initiative’ was also an event at the conference, promoting the campaign’s work helping farming communities thrive.