National restaurant company Panera Bread announced today a new commitment to be climate positive by 2050, removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. According to the company, the new goal equates to removing approximately 2.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year and makes Panera Bread the first national fast casual restaurant company to set a climate positive target.

Food and beverage sector emissions account for about a third of global GHG emissions and are among the most difficult to address, with the vast majority coming from the supply chains of food and beverage companies, rather than from “direct” emissions from the companies’ operations. According to Climate Action 100+, in order to meet science-based emissions reduction targets, individual companies and the sector as a whole will need to address emissions from areas including agriculture and land use, with a total reduction in land-based Scope 3 emissions of 85% necessary to reach net zero by 2050.

The new target follows Panera’s launch of Cool Food Meals labelling on its menu last year, indicating to customers those meals have low impact on the climate.

To reduce emissions, the company is also setting short-term 2025 targets, including increasing the percentage of Cool Food Meals to 60% of bakery-café entrees, transitioning to 100% circular – reusable, recyclable, and compostable packaging, and using renewable electricity for at least 50% of Panera Bread owned operations. In addition, Panera stated that it will develop a roadmap to reduce emissions in line with a 1.5 C science-based target to reduce its carbon footprint and then become climate positive through carbon removal and sequestration projects.

Niren Chaudhary, CEO, Panera Bread, said:

“Climate change is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, and we must act now for our planet. We embrace the responsibility to take immediate and relentless action to create positive change and hope that our industry will follow us. We are sharing our vision for a climate positive future to inspire both our industry and our supply chain partners to take urgent, decisive and clear action.”