Coming together on climate change
This week, leaders from around the world met at the United Nations Climate Summit – said to be the world’s largest gathering ever on climate change.
Companies, environmental groups and leaders from numerous countries came together with the clear understanding that we share one planet with finite resources and the great responsibility of protecting it.
Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer at General Mills, was at the Summit and participated in the UN Private Sector Forum. The forum convened business leaders to discuss both the risks and opportunities that climate change presents. In his remarks, Jerry discussed the unique challenges agriculture faces and General Mills’ commitment to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout our total value chain using science-based methodology to set targets.
Throughout the Summit, the call to action from all the speakers was clear and decidedly urgent.
As United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon put it, “Climate change is a defining issue of our age. It is defining our present. Our response will define our future …We are not here to talk, we are here to make history.”
President Obama echoed this urgency: “…there is one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.” He went on to say: “I believe in the words of Dr. King that there is such a thing as being too late. For the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate while we still can.”
General Mills has been taking steps to reduce GHG emissions in our operations and in agriculture for years. Now, we’re joining other global companies in committing to further reductions as well as advocate for meaningful energy and climate legislation.
In addition to our climate policy, General Mills has signed the New York Declaration on Forests and joined the United Nations’ Caring for Climate initiative.
The New York Declaration on Forests is a pledge signed by governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous peoples to halve deforestation by 2020 and to end it within the following decade. Deforestation is a significant contributor to climate change. The Nature Conservancy refers to forests as the lungs of our planet and states that keeping forests alive is crucial to solving climate change.
General Mills has been working to end deforestation in high risk supply chains since 2010, when we made our initial commitment to source palm oil in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
General Mills also supports Caring for Climate, which was launched by UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon in 2007, as a UN initiative aiming to engage business in addressing climate change.
While the Climate Summit 2014 has received a lot of attention, it is the opening act for a much bigger Climate Conference scheduled in 2015. The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) will take place in Paris in 2015.
The goal of this conference is “..to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all of the nations in the world.”
As a company, we’ll continue to address GHG emissions in our operations and, in the next year, turn our sights to target setting for broader GHG reductions throughout our value chain.
In addition, we continue to work towards our goal of sustainably sourcing 100% of our 10 priority ingredients by 2020. These efforts, along with other initiatives such as water stewardship, are critical in conserving and protecting the natural resources and communities our business depends upon.
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