Companies failing to tackle agricultural emissions

3rd September 2015


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IEMA

Major food, drink and tobacco brands are missing their biggest opportunity to mitigate climate risks by not tackling agricultural emissions, according to the CDP.

Agricultural production emissions represent the biggest source of food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and are responsible for 10-14% of global emissions, the CDP said. However, the non-profit’s latest data revealed that less than one-quarter of major companies in the food, drink and tobacco sector report indirect GHG emissions from agriculture.

The lack of data from companies on this issue suggests that at least 10% of GHG emissions are unaccounted for, it added.

The CDP’s report outlines the business case for companies working with suppliers to cut emissions. It reveals that more than one-third of the 97 brands disclosing information to CDP reported that implementing climate change-related agricultural management practices reduced their costs.

In addition, more than three-quarters reported that such practices resulted in two or more benefits for farms and suppliers, such as improvements in soil quality, water savings and yield increases.

Frances Way, co-chief operating officer at the CDP, said: “Our data shows that companies who engage with one or more of their stakeholders are more than twice as likely to see returns from emissions reduction investment as companies that don’t.”

Coca-Cola, Dairy Crest, Danone, Kellogg, Nestle and Unilever were identified by the CDP as being at the forefront of action in their agricultural supply chains. These companies have disclosed agricultural emissions for at least the past two years, and have also implemented new practices to reduce agricultural emissions.

Meanwhile, government subsidies have been blamed for agricultural practices that drive around 80% of global deforestation. A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has revealed that subsidies for fertilisers and irrigation often fail to increase yield and can instead contribute to a wasteful use of resources as well as environmental damage to tropical forests.

Many fiscal incentives supporting agricultural development were designed well before forest conservation became an environmental priority, UNEP said. It recommends that governments design subsidies to achieve both aims.

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