Oxfam recently released a report outlining the need for food and beverage companies to do more to combat climate change. The effects of climate change can already be felt within the industry. For example, Unilever reported an annual loss of US$415 million due to extreme weather changes. The report focused on the Big 10 companies: Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever. These companies have a unique opportunity to address the impact of climate change because their supply chains are linked with large amounts of green house gas emissions and their enormous revenues lend them clout in the political arena.
Oxfam reports that the Big 10 produce more greenhouse gases than Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined. While these companies have made efforts to reduce emissions that are directly produced from their operations, the emissions indirectly associated with their supply chains, mostly due to agricultural production, are not fully monitored and have yet to be addressed as a serious issue. However, Oxfam reports that these indirect emissions add up to over 100 million tons annually, which is the same impact as forty coal-powered electricity plants and accounts for 80-90 percent of their total emission responsibility.
In addition to addressing the impact of these emissions, Oxfam calls for the Big 10 to use their economic power to influence other industries as well as policy makers to support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. According to the report, the daily revenue of the Big 10 is equivalent to the combined GDP of all of the world’s low-income countries. However, the Big 10 has remained relatively silent on climate change issues.
Based on their report findings, OxFam recommends the Big 10 “know and show their climate change emissions” and set quantifiable emission reductions as well as “advocate for ambitious action to combat climate change.”