Politics of Poverty

General Mills sees the big picture on climate change

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As General Mills was about to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month, Oxfam was outside, urging the company behind Pillsbury, Green Giant, Lucky Charms, and more to #ActOnClimate. Photo: Vasia Markides / Oxfam America

Food company will implement industry-leading measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chains.

What do you think of when you think of climate change? Black coal-fired smokestacks and smog-covered skies?  Drought and tropical storms?

Whatever it is, you’re probably not picturing expansive fields of oil palm, soy, and sugarcane or breakfast cereals, let alone Tony the Tiger or the Keebler Elf.

But that’s all I’ve been seeing over the last few months. When I think of climate change, I’ve been focused on the industrial-scale agricultural supply chains of the 10 largest food and beverage companies – emissions from reckless deforestation, the overuse of fertilizers, large-scale land clearance, and other harmful practices – all contributing to a warming planet.

And now, General Mills is stepping up to do the right thing.

Today, General Mills has announced that they will implement industry-leading measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chains and press for political action to address climate change. As part of this commitment, the company will establish “science-based” targets to cut emissions from across its operations and supply chains, working to align these targets with a long-term goal to keep global temperature change below 2°C.

Importantly these targets include a clear commitment to reduce corporate value chain “Scope 3” greenhouse gas emissions, where 92 percent of General Mills’ climate pollution occurs. They will focus on agricultural production – the single largest source of emissions in their value chain.

This is huge! General Mills is the first food company to commit to establishing a total supply chain target that applies to agriculture and that is responsive to what the latest science demands.

The company will also join the steering committee of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), a leading advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful climate and energy legislation, and will sign onto BICEP’s Climate Declaration. You can find a complete list of General Mills’ commitments here with a roadmap outlining how Oxfam will monitor success over time and make sure that the company sticks to their promises.

It’s now up to Kellogg, the other target of our campaign, to take climate actions that are aligned with General Mills’ commitments. General Mills and Kellogg are just two of the ten food and beverage companies in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign. While some companies are clearly in the lead on climate change, others still have far to go. We are hopeful that the industry leadership demonstrated by General Mills will encourage other companies falling behind on climate change to follow suit.

We tip our hats to Oxfam’s hundreds of thousands of supporters who took action and to General Mills for listening and responding to the calls from consumers to take strong climate action. Your commitments are creating a different picture of one of the most important global issues of our time.

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