The organization ensures that the combined emissions of Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PespiCo and Unilever total 263.7 million tons per year of greenhouse gases, the equivalent figure those of the twenty-fifth most polluting state in the world and surpass those of Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway together.
Neglect of agricultural emissions
Together, the “Big 10” emit 263.7 million tons of greenhouse gases; more than Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined. The emissions derived from its activities amount to 29.8 million tons. Of the total emissions, about half come from the production of agricultural materials in their supply chains. However, the reduction targets set by the companies do not include these emissions. Thus, Oxfam considers that companies are being particularly negligent in relation to agricultural emissions.
Climate change contributes to altering weather patterns, as well as increasing storms, floods and droughts. This negatively affects food reserves, causing their prices to rise and creating more hunger and poverty. Experts in the field predict that by 2050, 50 million more people will suffer from hunger due to climate change.
Climate change and its relation to the increase in food prices
Some of the "Big 10" have already admitted that climate change is hurting them financially. Unilever has indicated that it loses 415 million dollars annually, while General Mills has affirmed that, only during the first quarter of this fiscal year 2014, it has lost 62 days of production due to the worsening of extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change. Oxfam predicts that the price of some of the main products of these companies, such as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes or General Mills Kix, could skyrocket up to 44% in the next 15 years due to this phenomenon.
Oxfam points out that the food system is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions and that these increase as demand for food increases. Specialists point out that if the world is to avoid exceeding the “safe” warming threshold of 2ºC, by 2050 the emissions derived from agricultural and forestry activities must be reduced to 0 and, in fact, become a “carbon sink. ”In order to eliminate greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. However, the general trend is the opposite.
“Many of the food and beverage giants are simply crossing their fingers hoping that climate change will not affect the food system and that others will fix it. The 'Big 10' generate more than a billion dollars every day and have great power to influence global agri-food chains. Industry must do much more to eradicate hunger in the world while transforming its production methods, ”stresses Oxfam Executive Director Winnie Byanyima.
Unilever, Coca-Cola and Nestlé are relatively more assertive in their policies and measures to fight climate change, although they still have a lot to improve.
Oxfam singles out Kellogg’s and General Mills as the two worst companies on climate change and calls on them to lead the industry towards more responsible policies and practices. Oxfam suggests that they could make public data about their agricultural emissions and the names of their most polluting suppliers, set emission reduction targets for their supply chains, and call on companies and governments to tackle the climate crisis.
Oxfam research concludes that:
- All the “Big 10” recognize the need to reduce indirect agricultural emissions in their supply chains and seven of them measure and publish their emissions annually through the Carbon Disclosure Project (except Kellogg’s, General Mills and Associated British Foods);
- Only Unilever and Coca-Cola have set emission reduction targets for their supply chains, but none of the ten have made a clear commitment to reducing their agricultural emissions according to specific targets.
- None of the “Big 10” requires its suppliers to set emission reduction targets.
- The top ten food and beverage companies have set targets to reduce emissions from their activities, but these targets are often unscientific and do not reflect the actual contribution of these companies to the problem.
- Several of these ten companies have committed to ending deforestation in their palm oil supply chains within a very ambitious timeframe, but only Mars and Nestlé have extended these measures to other raw materials that also drive deforestation and change. land use.
- An Indonesian company that sells palm oil to Cargill, a supplier to Kellogg's, General Mills and other agri-food giants, is allegedly involved in a burning of forest land to produce palm oil that started a major fire that, by itself, it caused the emission of as many greenhouse gases as 10.3 million cars emit in a year.
- With the exception of Unilever, Coca-Cola and Mars, the giants of the food and beverage industry are not taking enough action to publicly urge governments and companies to do more to fight climate change, such as opposing harmful positions. or incorrect that the associations that represent them assume.
"The agri-food industry has a moral imperative and corporate responsibility to significantly increase its efforts to fight climate change," says Byanyima. "The 'Big 10' are not using their full power responsibly and will suffer the consequences. Kellogg’s and General Mills, in particular, are not assuming their responsibilities. These companies should lead the fight to avoid that, as a consequence of climate change, more people are victims of hunger. It is time for them to stop sitting idly by.
PepsiCo UK is committed to reducing emissions from its agricultural supply chains by 50% in five years. If the "Big 10" replicated this measure, by 2020 they would emit approximately 80 million tons less than they will emit if they do not modify their policies.
Information: EFE and Oxfam