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Global Warming. Climate Change. Climate Justice.
What Does it All Mean?
We live in a world where the effects of climate change are increasingly real; from melting ice caps to rampant forest fires, it can no longer be denied that man-made carbon pollution is affecting our fragile planet. The scientific evidence is settled; global warming is real and already impacting people around the world. The question now is, “What are we doing about it?”
The Effects on Our Planet and Its People:
Every passing year, we see changing patterns of precipitation, including more intense rainfall events around the world, dramatic changes in the arctic, changes in agricultural growing seasons and rising sea levels and ocean acidification. Some of these changes in our climate will have dramatic ecological and social consequences. The cruel irony of climate change is that people in the developing world, who can least afford to adapt to climate change, will pay the steepest price for the 200 years of industrialization and pollution from the developed world. It truly is an issue of climate justice.
It is more urgent than ever that we take steps to dramatically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions – and to do it in a way that equitably shares the burdens and risks of climate change among the nations of the world. Ultimately, we have to break the link between economic growth and development from natural resource extraction and depletion.
There is no quick fix to solve climate change, but we know what we need to do. We must:
- Divest from fossil fuels
- Increase renewable energy sources
- Put a price on carbon pollution
- Work with developing countries to invest in renewable energy
What Does it Mean for Ben & Jerry’s?
Ben & Jerry's has a long history of fighting for climate justice and finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of our business. In 2002, we launched a carbon offsets program for our Vermont manufacturing facilities. In 2007, we ran our first global warming advocacy campaign in partnership with the Dave Matthews Band. We've invested early and often in efficiencies throughout our manufacturing facilities, supply chain, and Scoop Shops to increase energy efficiency and shrink our carbon footprint.
Nearly all businesses have greenhouse gas emissions associated with their operations, and that includes Ben & Jerry’s. We rely on agriculture for our main ingredients, especially dairy, as well as manufacturing to make our products, trucks to transport our finished products and freezers to keep our ice cream cold. We know our carbon footprint, and are working throughout our operations to reduce it. We are working with our farmers to reduce methane emessions from farms, we lead the change to a cleaner, greener freezer in the United States and built the Chunkinator at our Netherlands factory which helps power the factory from ice cream bi-products. We also know what we’ve done is not nearly enough and we must do more. We make progress and report on this each year in our our Social and Environmental Assessment (SEAR) Report. Read more about the steps we're taking to reduce our carbon footprint and our plan to get to 100% clean energy at all of our U.S. sites by 2020.
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 Steamship 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:
- 2002 - Began Carbon offsets with NativeEnergy for our Vermont manufacturing facilities
- 2004 - Life Cycle Analysis completed for European Union (EU) production
- 2007 - EU began carbon offsets/insetting
- 2007 - One Sweet Whirled Advocacy Campaign
- 2008 - Carbon inventory completed in the US
- 2008 - Partnered with Greenpeace to win EPA approval of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) free refrigeration cabinets
- 2014 - Life Cycle Analysis complete for US
- 2014 - Installed a bio-digester at our Netherlands manufacturing facility
- 2015 - Life Cycle Analysis to be completed for EU
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.
- Ensure that 2/3 of all present commercially viable fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground
- Completely phase out all fossil fuel emissions as soon as possible, but no later than 2050
- Make no new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure
- Engage all countries in phasing out fossil fuel emissions, with actions varying depending on countries’ common, but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities
- Transition the global economy to 100% renewable energy while ensuring sustainable energy access for all by 2050
- Put a science-based price on carbon pollution that limits warming to 2º Celsius.
- Create a global framework in which developed economies help fund the shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient sustainable development in developing countries and the global south
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