Food and drink companies worldwide are falling short of the goal for reducing carbon emissions and must collaborate to improve their efforts.
That’s the conclusion of a report by consultants AlixPartners, which found that at best food and beverage manufacturers, suppliers and retailers may manage to reduce emissions by 29% by 2030. That will still miss the goal of 38% set out in the United Nations 2015 Paris Agreement and by the Science Based Targets initiative.
The research comes as many parts of Europe are recovering from a heat wave, which are becoming more common as the climate warms. Food and drink producers, some of the biggest contributors to global warming, face a particular challenge when it comes to reducing their scope 3 emissions — those produced by the entire value chain, including suppliers and customers.
“It’s time to get practical and get moving,” Randy Burt, a managing director at AlixPartners in Chicago who co-authored the report, said in a phone interview. “The idea that it’s going to be solved by anyone inside their own four walls is not accurate. It has to be a system approach. It has to be an industry approach.”
AlixPartners analysed the carbon commitments made by 235 food and beverage companies across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the US, as well as by the world’s 13 largest food and beverage packaging firms. The firm also surveyed 200 executives focused on sustainability and operations.
It found that companies in the industry have barely reduced emissions since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. A reduction of 38% is what’s required to limit the rise in the earth’s temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Science Based Targets initiative is an international partnership that measures whether companies are delivering on the necessary cuts outlined in the Paris accord.
Food and beverage production is estimated to contribute one-third of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
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