As the world tentatively exits a global pandemic, an even bigger problem is lurking in the shadows, and it doesn’t look good. Climate change, the 500 lbs gorilla in the room hasn’t been sleeping during COVID. In fact, it has woken up grumpy as CO2 levels are at record numbers despite the economic downturn and reduction in global travel, reaching an unprecedented 420 ppm million in June of 2022.
The IPCC, a normally sombre, scientific and policy driven organization, has declared that the window on addressing climate change is rapidly closing if we want to avoid the worse impacts of droughts, floods, rising sea levels and biodiversity loss. We must act now!
For many organizations and countries, this means a race to net zero. But what does this mean? And perhaps, more importantly, what does it mean for your business?
Net zero, also known as carbon neutrality, is when you add up all the emissions in your organization, city, or country and try to drive those down to zero. Reducing emissions can be done in your own operation through a combination of processes including solar panels, offsetting them with carbon sinks such as planting trees, or investing in other organizations involved in drawing down carbon. This becomes an organizational roadmap with targets based on a timeline, with most companies targeting 2035-50 as realistic.
Recently, Maple Leaf Foods became the biggest global food brand to announce carbon neutrality. Initially, this has been achieved through carbon offsets, but the company has committed to significant shifts and investments in regenerative agriculture and clean energy.
We are seeing more retailers, such as Loblaws, make similar commitments and this will send major ripples through the food and beverage manufacturing industry for decades to come.
Food and beverage manufacturers are the crucial middle of a complex supply chain, where all the energy and resources come together into a consumer package. As members of the agri-food industry, we must act now to begin to de-carbonize that supply chain, as this can take years. Even with a generous 10-15 year horizon, the reality of these commitments and the shifting policy landscape and move towards banning single use plastics, or the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, means that your business needs to consider how this will impact your growth over the years to come.
What seems like an aspirational, long-term target now, is becoming a market access issue as major investors and insurance companies around the world are demanding ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) reporting to ensure that the risks associated with climate change are being properly accounted for and controlled. If you aren’t considering climate change in your strategic planning today, you are at major risk as the race to net zero marches on.
Even adding up those emissions can be tricky, as outlined by the complex National Index on Agri-Food Performance that FABMb has collaborated on. For many companies, learning where to start can be daunting. We are here to help!
Join us September 7 to accelerate your journey at the Cultivate: Sustainability Conference and Trade Show. Spend an inspirational day learning about the immense opportunities to engage with sustainability and energy efficiency experts and how you can get ahead of the regulatory curve before it is too late. See how investments in green energy and efficiency can reduce your energy costs and connect you to the consumers demanding better, climate friendly food options. Learn about exciting new technologies such as precision fermentation and vertical farming that will change how we grow and produce food.