Climate change is one of society's greatest challenges. It is also one of the greatest risks to producing the ingredients that go into our food and beverage products. We are acting now to become a net zero company and accelerate the move towards regenerative food systems at scale.
What's your plan to tackle climate change?
In December 2020, we were one of the first food companies to publish a Climate Roadmap (pdf, 10Mb), which highlights the actions we are taking to get to net zero.
Our ambition is to halve our absolute emissions by 2030 throughout our value chain and achieve net zero by 2050 at the latest. And we are on track to achieve this: Our emissions peaked in late 2019 and continue to decline, even as our company grows. In 2021, we achieved a reduction of 4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Our actions focus on supporting farmers and suppliers to advance regenerative agriculture, planting 20 million trees every year for the next 10 years and completing our transition to 100% purchased renewable electricity by 2025.
What are your priority areas as a food company?
Nearly two-thirds of our overall emissions come from land use and agriculture. That's why regenerative agriculture and reforestation are a key part of our work.
- Our target is to source 20% of our key ingredients through regenerative agriculture by 2025, and 50% by 2030. That's more than 14 million tonnes of ingredients that will support regenerative practices.
- We are working with more than 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers, to advance regenerative farming practices.
- We are moving towards a Forest Positive approach. Our ambition is to maintain 100% deforestation-free primary supply chains by the end of 2022 for palm oil, sugar, soy, meat, pulp and paper, and by 2025 for coffee and cocoa. We are also investing in a global reforestation program, targeting 200 million trees planted by the end of the decade.
We are transforming our operations to reduce our emissions wherever we can.
- By 2025, we will purchase 100% renewable electricity across our sites globally. We've already hit 60% and are well on our way to achieving this objective.
- More than 25% of our global fleet of vehicles have switched to lower-emission options to date. Our ambition is to reach 100% by the end of 2022.
We are evolving our product portfolio to reduce its environmental impact and help meet consumer demand for more sustainable products.
- We're increasing our offering of plant-based foods and beverages to provide consumers with low carbon options. Recent plant-based product launches include Vuna, a delicious alternative to tuna made with just 6 ingredients, and Wunda, a pea-based milk alternative.
- A number of our brands such as Garden Gourmet, Garden of Life or Persona are helping build agricultural supply chains based on regenerative practices.
What is the scope of your Climate Roadmap? What have you already achieved?
Our climate targets are measured against a 2018 baseline (92 million tonnes of CO2e). We are already reducing our net greenhouse gas emission in absolute terms by 50% by 2030 (approximately 46 million tonnes of CO2e).
In 2021, we achieved a reduction of 4 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. These reductions were reviewed by EY, our auditors and achieved in full alignment with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which we see as the gold standard in this area.
Our targets cover all 3 scopes of our activities – this means we're also addressing emissions that are not under our direct control. We transparently indicate which emissions fall within scope and which do not.
Read more about our progress toward net zero emissions.
Are you planting trees to avoid reducing emissions across your business?
No. Tree planting is one part of our integrated plan to reduce and remove emissions from our supply chain through better land management.
To reduce emissions, we work with farmers and our suppliers to change the way they grow food. This includes, for example, using less artificial fertilizer and reducing tillage. At the same time, we invest in projects within our supply chain that remove carbon from the atmosphere by protecting and restoring land and by growing trees. Current projects include helping safeguard an important forest reserve in Côte d'Ivoire located close to where we source cocoa and restoring peatland in Indonesia, in a region from where we source palm oil. These initiatives can also deliver various other benefits to the environment and communities, such as improving soil health and supporting incomes.
Projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere are not a 'replacement' for efforts to decarbonize our company. We must do both urgently, and at scale.
What steps do you take to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities when you work on reforestation projects?
As part of our Climate Roadmap and our Forest Positive Strategy, we aim to grow 200 million trees by 2030 in the landscapes where we source our ingredients. Our Global Reforestation Program (pdf, 1Mb) will help us achieve this, and includes social safeguards like ensuring respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
We strongly believe that forest conservation and restoration require a people-focused approach. The safeguards in our Reforestation Program apply to all the phases of reforestation projects. For example, projects must demonstrate free prior and informed consent for customary owned land and the legal right to undertake the project. Communities within a region where a project is undertaken also need to be consulted. This can include indigenous communities, adjacent landholders, and government agencies.
Looking ahead, we wish to further support projects that aim to empower indigenous peoples and local communities, helping them to act as stewards of the forests and ecosystems they live in and rely on.
What's the role of carbon offsetting in your net zero ambition?
Our Climate Roadmap does not rely on offsets. To achieve net zero emissions, we focus on reducing emissions as far as possible. We also remove emissions through in-setting: using natural climate solutions to increase the storage of carbon in land and soils in our own value chain.
A number of our brand teams are going beyond this plan by purchasing high quality carbon offsets to reach carbon neutrality earlier than 2050. We see this as an effective way of engaging consumers directly in tackling climate change through their purchasing habits. It is not and will never be a substitute for real emissions reductions as set out in our corporate commitment.