Sustainability non-profit Ceres announced the launch of Food Emissions 50, a new initiative to lead institutional investors to engage the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting companies in the North American food sector to disclose and reduce GHG emissions.

Addressing the climate footprint of the food sector is key to accelerating the transition to a net zero future, according to Ceres, with the global food system is responsible for a third of all global GHG emissions. The sector contributes significantly to the Scope 3 supply chain emissions of other companies and organizations that buy, distribute or sell food and ag products.

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Julie Nash, Director of Food and Forests at Ceres, said:

“High-emitting food companies have a significant role to play in achieving a net zero emissions economy. Moving top North American food companies to disclose and reduce supply chain emissions will have considerable ripple effects in the global food and agriculture sector.”

The initiative will target 50 of the largest food and agricultural companies in North America, including McDonald’s, Starbucks and Kraft Heinz. Ceres released results of a study indicating that 60% of the companies do not currently include Scope 3 emissions in their existing climate targets, 70% do not disclose emissions from agriculture, and 80% do not disclose emissions from land use.

The companies will be asked to commit to a series of actions including disclosing GHG emissions across their value chains, set 1.5 °C-aligned science-based emissions reduction targets, and to develop, disclose, implement and report progress on climate transition action plans.

Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management, one of the first investor signatories to the new initiative, said:

“We are thrilled to be an investor signatory to Ceres’ Food Emissions 50. Deforestation and land conversion are the single largest contributors to the emissions generated by the food system, and we look forward to bringing our expertise on shareholder advocacy on deforestation to rapidly reduce agricultural sector emissions.”