New investor campaign targets 50 food companies over emissions reductions

Jul 30, 2021
Ceres says it has broader plan to cut emissions across six sectors

A new investor campaign has called on North American food companies to take stronger action over climate change as the buy-side focus on reducing emissions shifts beyond the oil and gas sector.

The initiative, coordinated by sustainability non-profit Ceres, has published a list of 50 ‘high-emitting’ food and agriculture companies alongside an analysis of their Scope 3 emissions and reduction targets.

Most of the companies are ‘lagging in key areas that are necessary to increase the ambition of their climate transition action plans,’ says Ceres. For example, the majority are not disclosing emissions from agriculture or land-use change, it says.

Ceres says it can be difficult to assess the emissions of food and agriculture companies due to the lack of disclosure across their whole value chain. The 50 issuers covered by the initiative were selected due to their large market cap and use of the most carbon-intensive agricultural commodities, says the non-profit.

‘High-emitting food companies have a significant role to play in achieving a net-zero emissions economy,’ says Julie Nash, Ceres’ director of food and forests, in a statement. ‘Moving top North American food companies to disclose and reduce supply-chain emissions will have considerable ripple effects in the global food and agriculture sector.’

Companies included in the list will be asked to commit to the following tasks: disclose emissions across the entire value chain; set science-based targets that align with the Paris Agreement; develop a climate transition action plan; and report on progress against that plan.

While many climate-related campaigns have focused on fossil fuel companies, the food industry is estimated to be responsible for around a third of all human-caused emissions, according to a study published in Nature Food journal.

One investor initiative, coordinated by Ceres and FAIRR, spent two years targeting fast food companies over ESG risks in their protein supply chains. In April this year, it said most of those companies have now announced or plan to publish science-based targets on emissions reductions.

Ceres says it is working on a broader project to ‘decarbonize’ the six largest emitting sectors and will reveal more details in August.

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