General Mills takes bold stand for climate action

Oxfam welcomed today’s commitment from General Mills to implement industry-leading measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chains and press for political action to address climate change. The announcement comes after more than 230,000 people signed petitions and took action as part of Oxfam’s campaign to urge food and beverage companies to help stop climate change.

General Mills, the maker of Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs and Green Giant, is one of the world’s ten biggest food and beverage companies. The commitments announced today make it the first major food and beverage company to promise to implement long-term science-based targets to cut emissions from across all of its operations and supply chains that are responsive to the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2°C. Importantly these targets include a clear commitment to reduce “Scope 3” greenhouse gas emissions, where 92 percent of the company’s value chain climate pollution occurs, focusing on agricultural production.

The company has also signed-on to the Climate Declaration and joined 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. Kellogg, the other target of Oxfam’s campaign, has yet to address the issues highlighted by Oxfam’s report, Standing on the Sidelines.

“Today General Mills has taken a bold step to be an industry leader in addressing the clear and present threat climate change poses to our food system,” said Monique van Zijl, campaign manager for Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign. “Rather than stand by silently as increasingly dangerous conditions undermine its business and the food we all eat, General Mills aims to be part of the solution. Political leaders and others in the industry should take note.

“This would not have happened without the remarkable outpouring of public action from individuals who are fed up with the lack of effort to address climate change from too many food companies and governments. It’s further evidence that consumers can really change how companies operate if they raise their voice.”
 

Oxfam welcome’s General Mills’ climate action commitment including its promises to:

1. Define and disclose a total supply chain greenhouse gas reduction target, including scope 1, 2, & 3 emissions, by August 2015, with a focus on achieving agriculture emissions reductions.

2. Aim to achieve zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains by 2020. This expands its previous commitments for palm oil and packaging fiber to include other supply chains at high risk for deforestation and land degradation including, beef, soy and sugarcane.

3. Disclose top three suppliers of palm oil and sugar cane.

4. Participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project, including annual reporting on Scope 3 emissions data and responding to the Forests Information Request.

5. Publicly advocate for effective and efficient public and industry association policy, such as encouraging peers to join the Consumer Goods Forum’s zero net deforestation commitment.

6. Join BICEP and sign-on to the Climate Declaration.

7. Regularly review company statements and policies to ensure they are aligned with mitigation targets, plans, and adaptation initiatives. Report on governance-related activity on climate policy where material.

8. Assess supplier practices for all high-risk commodities of material significance and, where necessary, take action to address material issues.

The company’s full commitments can be seen at: http://www.generalmills.com/ChannelG/Issues/climate_policy.aspx/

As one of the biggest food and beverage companies on the planet General Mills has immense power to influence its suppliers and help create stronger standards in the industry. Oxfam’s report revealed that the 10 biggest food and beverage companies together emit so much greenhouse gas that, if they were a single country, they would be the 25th most polluting in the world. The report also highlighted cases in Liberia and Indonesia where suppliers of palm oil to General Mills and Kellogg are accused of clearing land and burning forests. In light of these new commitments, Oxfam expects the company to addresses the issues raised in Indonesia and Liberia with its suppliers.

Kellogg, one of General Mills’ main competitors in the industry, faces growing pressure from the public to act. General Mills has shown that the only thing standing in the way of greater climate action from food and beverage companies is the political will.

“We applaud General Mills for taking this vital first step,” said van Zijl. “We look forward to tracking the actions the company takes to follow through on their promises. The ball is now in Kellogg’s court to respond to the hundreds of thousands of people calling for climate action.”

Notes to editors

1. Read General Mills’ new policy

Statement on new GHG Emissions Target

General Mills Blog post

2. Oxfam’s investigation into climate change and the food industry is available at: Standing on the Sidelines: Why food and beverage companies must do more to tackle climate change

3. Oxfam’s Behind the Brands ranking of food and beverage companies is available at www.behindthebrands.org/scorecard

Contact information

Ben Grossman-Cohen; Office: +1 (202) 777 2907; bgrossman-cohen@oxfamamerica.org