Food companies say they can reduce their emissions this year. Experts are skeptical.
Author: Chris Casey
Ahead of the United Nations’ COP27 climate conference last fall, beverage giant Coca-Cola was announced as a sponsor. Immediate backlash ensued. Sustainability activists accused the UN of greenwashing by inviting a company responsible for large amounts of plastic pollution, which is accountable for 3.4% of global emissions according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). A petition signed by 240,000 people was created, requesting that Coca-Cola be removed as a sponsor, which ultimately did not occur. In response to increased pressure from sustainability advocates and consumers, food and beverage companies have laid out plans to lower the greenhouse gas emissions emanating from their supply chains over the next decade. But whether the companies can make real progress is a major question, according to experts. Some companies, like Mars, signaled their commitment by saying they would tie executive pay to meeting emissions goals. Three major CPGs - Mars, PepsiCo and Nestlé - each told Food Dive they are on track to reach their own lowered emission goals and aim to make substantial progress toward them in 2023. While some experts view CPG efforts thus far as a step in the right direction, they are skeptical that the industry will be able to reach their time-based goals in the coming years. This will likely fuel even greater pressure from activists, who lay a large share of the blame for the climate crisis at the foot of food and beverage makers. The food industry is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations.