Wheat field

‘Big 10’ food companies emit more greenhouse gases than Scandinavia

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 09:51 GMT Jump to Comments

The ‘Big 10’ food and drink companies emit more greenhouse gases than Scandinavia, it has emerged in an Oxfam report.

It was revealed that if they were an individual country, they would rank as the 25th most polluting, between Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, placed at 24th and 26th respectively.

In the report Standing on the Sidelines, the international agency has reported that the ‘Big 10’ emit more than Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland’s total of 250 million tons of greenhouse gases.

The report has warned that the companies are risking financial ruin if they do not do more to tackle climate change. Oxfam believes the companies are capable of cutting their combined emissions by 80 million tons by 2020 - the same amount pledged by Mexico and South Africa.

According to the international agency, companies are not doing enough despite the threat climate change poses to the sustained supply of ingredients they need for their products, their economic might and the need to feed a growing population.

Between them, the big ten generate £650 million ($1.1 billion) a day in revenues, equivalent to the total gross domestic product of all the world’s lower income countries.

Oxfam’s director of UK campaigns and policy Sally Copley said: “By failing to cut emissions adequately the ‘Big 10’ are putting short term profits ahead of the long term interests of both themselves and the rest of us.
 
“Their influence and wealth are the perfect ingredients to stop putting their businesses at risk and making climate change worse. They need to look at the whole picture from how their ingredients are grown to how their goods are produced to cut emissions”.

Oxfam says that the food industry drives around 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and that these emissions are growing as demand for food rises. Experts predict that by 2050 there will be 50 million more people made hungry because of climate change. 

Some of the ‘Big 10’ companies admit that climate change is already beginning to harm them financially. Unilever says it now loses $415 million a year, while General Mills reported losing 62 days of production in the first fiscal quarter of 2014 alone because of extreme weather conditions that are growing worse because of climate change.

Oxfam singled out Kellogg and General Mills as two of the worst on climate and is calling on them to lead the sector towards more responsible policies and practices.

Of the ‘Big 10’s’ total emissions, about half come from the production of agricultural materials from their supply chains, yet the reduction targets do not cover these emissions the companies have set.

It was revealed that only Unilever and Coca-Cola have committed to reduction targets that address emissions in their supply chains, but none of the companies have committed to clear reduction targets specific to their agricultural emissions. 

The ‘Big 10’ include Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.

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