We were proud to be in Paris in December 2015 when world leaders came together to do something really important: they adopted a global framework to collectively combat climate change and committed to keeping average global temperature rise to well below 2º Celsius. This was a historic moment that was many years in the making. However, Paris was not the end; it was only the beginning.
With the release of the most recent IPCC report, the consensus of the global scientific community couldn’t be clearer: our world is already seeing the devastating effects of climate change and time is running to act to avoid even more catastrophic consequences.
From drought and devastating wildfires in the American West to accelerating rates of sea level rise and more powerful hurricanes, the real victims of a warming planet are not just polar bears and ice sheets, but people.
However, the effects of climate change are not felt equally. The cruel irony of climate change is that people in the developing world — those who can least afford to adapt — will pay the steepest price for the 200 years of industrialization and pollution from the developed world. This truly is an issue of climate justice.
While we know that the time is short to act, the incredibly good news is that we know what we need to do and have the technology to do it. With renewable energy sources like wind and solar, advancements in energy efficiency in homes and offices, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, and regenerative agriculture which can capture greenhouse gas pollution, we have all the tools we need to get to work.
The IPCC’s recent report said that avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and keeping warming below 1.5º Celsius would “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” While this may seem daunting, it’s also an opportunity to transform our economy and workforce into the clean energy economy of the future.
We understand that the greenhouse gas footprint of producing ice cream is significant. Each pint of ice cream we make produces roughly 2 lbs of greenhouse gasses. We’ve worked hard over the years to reduce our emissions at all levels of our supply chain. We’ve installed a solar array at our Waterbury, VT factory that generates one third of that plant’s electricity. We’ve installed a bio-digester at our Hellendoorn factory in the Netherlands that turns ice cream waste from the manufacturing processes into clean energy that helps power the plant, and we’ve helped pioneer technology for climate friendly (i.e. HFC-free) freezer cases. But to be clear, it’s not enough and there is much more work to be done.
Ben & Jerry’s has just adopted a new climate goal across our entire value chain. The goal is part of a growing movement called the Science Based Targets Initiative, a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. The SBTI helps companies set targets in line with the latest climate science, so that we as a business community can do our part to keep warming well below 2ºC.
It’s going to take more than just the actions of individual companies and people to fight climate change. We need to collectively call on our elected leaders to support a rapid transition to the clean energy economy of the future. We have all the tools we need, we just need the will to do it.
To national, local and international leaders:
The scientific community warns us that climate change is accelerating uncontrollably, threatening our survival and everything we love. We ask that you keep the global temperature rise below the unacceptably dangerous 1.5 ° C level. To achieve this, you must urgently present detailed plans to gradually eliminate carbon emissions before 2050, and thus begin a rapid transition of our societies and economies towards 100% clean energy.
Avaaz is a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.
The Climate Reality Project is a nonprofit organization focused on climate change education and clean power advocacy. They encourage citizens to get smart, get loud, and get active to affect change.
350.org is a climate change movement that’s organizing, empowering, and informing citizens in 188 countries to pressure their leaders into addressing climate change and cutting emissions. The name stems from the goal of reducing the atmosphere’s C02 levels from its current 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.
BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation that will enable a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate.
It’s real. It’s happening now. For us, its not just about polar bears and ice sheets, it’s about people and it’s an issue of economic and social justice.
We’ve always had a commitment to minimizing the negative impact our business has on the environment. We’ve made investments in energy efficiency and waste reduction at our manufacturing facilities, installed bio-digesters that turn waste to clean energy at our European manufacturing facility, and source only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paperboard for our packaging.
As a food company, many of the our partners in our value chain, including our Fairtrade suppliers in the global south, are at real risk from a warming planet. And because climate change is a risk to people in our supply chain, it’s also a risk to our business.
For us, the issue of climate change is not just an environmental issue. It’s a serious threat the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet. This problem has largely been caused by wealthy, developed nations of the global north, while the least developed nations of the global south are most at risk, and have the least resources to adapt to a rapidly warming world. It’s a matter of human rights and social justice.
We’ve been at this for a while. We ran our first global warming advocacy campaign in 2007, in partnership with the Dave Matthews band. We have a long history of focusing on reducing the environmental impact of our business. We’ve invested early and often in efficiencies at our manufacturing facilities to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste. We’ve recently christened a bio-digester at our ice cream plant in the Netherlands that turns waste from manufacturing process into cool clean energy. Here is a full list of what we’ve done:
We know that voluntary corporate action won’t deliver the large-scale systems change that is required to keep warming below 2º Celsius. We need leaders around the world to support policies that phase out fossil fuels and drive a rapid increase in renewables. Only a broad based social movement will build the sustained pressure on world leaders that can deliver this decarbonized future. That’s why we’re committed to helping build the growing international climate movement. Together, we can show world leaders that the time to act is now.
We are encouraging our fans, consumers and citizens to become a part of the global climate movement. If we’re to avoid catastrophic climate change, it will require a broad and diverse movement of citizens who are willing to take direct action to protect our planet. We’ll be encouraging our fans to join Avaaz, one of many groups that make up the global movement.
Avaaz will continue to engage our fans and encourage them to take action at moments when they can be most impactful. We want to provide an easy way for our fans to take action on an issue we know they care about.
2015 is a big year. World leaders have set a deadline to finalize an international agreement that would require all nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep warming below 2º Celsius. To put it bluntly, 2015 will either put the world on a path towards a stable long-term climate, or we’ll lock ourselves into a future with runaway climate change. We think the former sounds a lot better.
Yes, we do. Our carbon footprint per pint is about 1kg or approximately 136,000 metric tons of green house gasses annually. View our Life Cycle Analysis here.
Yes, Ben & Jerry’s is committed to reducing its absolute GHG footprint. We believe corporations should set ambitious goals that are rooted in science. Ben & Jerry’s is committed to de-linking the growth of our business with the growth of our GHG emissions. We’ve committed to an 80% reduction in our absolute emissions by 2050, despite an ambitious plan to grow our business. Between now and 2020, we’ve committed to reduce the emissions intensity per unit of production by 15%.
More than half of our company’s carbon emissions come from the production of our ingredients, most notably, milk. On farm emission are 42% of the overall life cycle emissions of our company, so in order to make real progress to reduce our footprint, we’ve got to partner with our family dairy farmers to improve manure management, reduce enteric emissions from the herd, and move towards better cropping methods that promote soil health and sequester carbon. In addition, we’ll continue to drive efficiencies throughout our manufacturing plants, our logistics network and our frozen supply chain.
Outbound transportation accounts for about 15% of our businesses footprint, so logistics is a sizable part of our footprint. However, ice cream that we ship internationally is moved by sea, which is the most efficient way to move goods. The World Shipping Council says that a ton of goods can be shipped from the Port of Melbourne in Australia to the Port of Long Beach in California, a distance of 12,770 kilometers (7,935 miles), while generating fewer CO2 emissions than generated when transporting the same cargo in the U.S. by truck from Dallas to Long Beach, a distance of 2,307 kilometers (1,442 miles). You can look into that further here.
In order for us to make meaningful reductions in the roughly 15% of our footprint associated with outbound shipping, we’ll need to drive increased efficiency in the over the road refrigerated truck fleets that move our products domestically.
Yes, we’re a dairy company and we’re proud of our relationship with the family farmers that supply all of our milk and cream. However, with agriculture responsible for 15-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, we’ve got a lot a work to do to reduce on farm emissions. That’s why we’re reviewing our Caring Dairy program to explore possibilities like the development of a greenhouse gas model for our farms that will allow us to measure real reductions in the footprint of our farms. We’ve also begun to invest in important technologies like manure separators and biodigesters on dairy farms in our supply chain to reduce our GHG footprint and benefit farmers at the same time.
We’re big fans of our planet, and always monitor the impact we’re having on the environment. When it comes to packaging, all the paperboard in our packaging is made from Forest Stewardship Council certified paperboard. Due to hygiene issues, we are required to coat our FSC paperboard; therefore the packaging is not currently widely recyclable. This is something we are looking to improve, and hope in the next year we can make progress on this issue.
In order to keep global average temperature below 2º C, Ben & Jerry’s supports the following policies.