Oct 01, 2015 • By

General Mills joins nine food companies to accelerate climate action

Later this year, delegates and world leaders from more than 190 nations around the globe will gather in Paris for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as the COP21. During the 11-day event, the goal of COP21 is to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

If successful, COP21 represents the first time the world firmly positions climate change as a critical global issue that is best addressed at scale.

Today, as this important event draws near, General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell joined CEOs of nine other global food companies – including Unilever, Kellogg Company, Nestlé USA, New Belgium Brewing, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farm and Dannon USA – to release a joint letter on the role of climate change in the food industry.

The letter addresses U.S. and world leaders, urging governments to do their part to forge a robust international agreement at COP21 this December.

“Climate change is bad for farmers and agriculture. Drought, flooding, and hotter growing conditions threaten the world’s food supply and contribute to food insecurity,” states the letter, which was published in today’s issues of The Washington Post and the Financial Times. “As world leaders convene in Paris you will have an opportunity to take action on climate change that could significantly change our world for the better.”

Read the full joint letter on


Coordinated by Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization, the joint letter is being released in tandem with a bipartisan, bicameral briefing on climate change in Washington D.C. featuring executives from each of the signatory food companies and sponsored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Chris Gibson. Kim Nelson, senior vice president of External Relations at General Mills, attended the event and shared remarks on our ongoing commitment to addressing climate change from farm to fork to landfill.


Within the joint letter, the CEO signatories pledged individual action by their companies to collectively mitigate climate change within the food industry. The actions include accelerating their own sustainability efforts; advocating achievable, enforceable science-based carbon reduction targets; sharing their best practices among stakeholders across the food industry value chain; and encouraging other companies to join their effort.

Last month, we announced a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 28 percent across our full value chain by 2025.

Unique to our peers, our commitment was calculated using science-based methodology. Meaning, the 28 percent reduction goal aligns with what today’s science suggests is necessary to sustain the health of the planet.

“By establishing specific, time-bound targets that embrace the full value chain, General Mills is in effect doubling down on their commitment to bring new innovation and partnerships with industry peers, suppliers, farmers, and other stakeholders, which will be critical to the company’s long term success,” said Eric Olson, senior vice president at Business for Social Responsibility, the leading sustainable business network and consultancy that worked closely with General Mills to develop the company’s new commitment.

Our long term aspiration is to achieve sustainable emission levels in line with scientific consensus by 2050. As outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientific consensus suggests a reduction of 50-70 percent in absolute emissions by 2050.

We have long been committed to reducing its environmental footprint, particularly within our direct operations where we have the greatest control. However, only a fraction of the total GHG emissions throughout our value chain are within our direct control. Nearly two-thirds of our total emissions occur upstream of our operations, primarily in agriculture.

Agriculture plays a significant role in the environmental footprint of the food industry. In fact, according the World Resources Institute (WRI), farming accounts for about 13 percent of total global GHG emissions, making agriculture the world’s second-largest emitter, after the energy sector.

But no one farmer, ingredient supplier or food company can mitigate climate change alone. To this end, no one entity controls the full food value chain. It’s only through the collaboration and collective innovation of farmers, suppliers, manufacturers, customers and consumers that we’ll achieve our goals.

It is this reality that compelled the collective action by the CEO signatories of joint letter on climate change today.

Powell notes in a press release announcing the joint letter, “To reduce emission levels, we must work across our collective value chains and together, identify new solutions and promote sustainable agriculture practices that drive emission reductions.”

Learn more about our climate commitment and ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental footprint, at

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