Danone’s approach to climate change leaves sour taste

Published: 20th November 2015

Oxfam was disappointed by the weakness of French food giant Danone’s new climate change policy, released ahead of the climate negotiations in Paris. Oxfam said that the company’s policy does not address the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that farmers and communities can prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“As one of the largest French food companies, it’s sad to see Danone make such a big belly flop right before the Paris COP,” says Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign manager Monique van Zijl. “Before such an important climate moment, the company should be making bold commitments to address climate change in their operations and supply chains, not symbolic measures. The world cannot wait 10 years for companies to act on a climate crisis that is happening now.”

Danone’s new policy does little to tackle the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the dangers of climate change and its contributions to it. The company’s target does not even include specific commitments to reduce the largest source of its supply chain emissions: agriculture – almost 60% of Danone’s carbon footprint stems from agriculture. Its new policy also fails to set immediate goals for reducing its total emissions; with a deadline to stop increasing real global emissions only by 2025, the company could emit even greater levels of greenhouse gas over the next 10 years.

The company’s weak policies are in stark contrast to a key competitor in the yogurt sector, General Mills, owner of the Yoplait brand. Following Oxfam’s Behind the Brands campaign, General Mills committed to and set an absolute science-based reduction target that included its entire value chain.

Danone’s policy also does not adequately address the needs of the small-scale farmers it relies so heavily on for sourcing its commodities. Danone could have established a precedent as a global leader but their policy fails to build resiliency in its supply chain. The company has not committed to providing farmers with fair deals to enable them to earn a living income nor a strategy for adapting to changing weather patterns.  Instead, the new policy addresses resilience by putting the onus on consumers to change their diets and purchasing habits rather than on shifting the company's supply chain practices.

“Small-scale farmers bear the brunt of climate change impacts and struggle with insufficient income, but companies like Danone have chosen to leave farmers deal with the consequences rather than invest in their resiliency,”  said van Zijl. “Ahead of Paris, Danone had the opportunity to show real leadership on climate change, but today chose to be a laggard instead.”

Oxfam estimated that the top 10 food companies –Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever –emit so much greenhouse gas that, if they were a single country, they would be the 25th most polluting in the world. 

Contact information

Becky Davis
Office: +1 (202) 777 2939

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