Ben & Jerry’s Puts a Price on its Carbon

December 3, 2015

After a year of anticipation, world leaders are meeting in Paris to hopefully reach a binding agreement limiting the amount of CO2 we put into the atmosphere. It’s the progress we’ve needed for years to rein in climate change before the worst impacts spin out of our control. Of course negotiations between the over 190 countries attending the 21st UN Climate Conference won’t be a simple, especially when it comes to the “how” of actually cutting emissions.

Ben & Jerry's announces internal company carbon tax

Well, maybe we should revise that. Because we think achieving the transition from a fossil-fuel economy to one powered by renewable energy actually can be simple— especially if governments follow the lead of pioneering provinces like British Columbia, and get real about the cost of carbon.

Taxing Our Carbon to Invest in Sustainability

A carbon tax puts a price on all forms of carbon pollution, driving down the use of fossil fuels while providing revenue to advance efficiency and cleaner, greener technologies. We think it’s such a good idea that we’ve even instituted our own tax for every metric ton of our greenhouse gas emissions, from farm to landfill. Scientists agree that we need to curb emissions by at least 80% by mid-century to avoid completely overheating our planet. We’ve set our own targets for reducing emissions on the same science-based glide slope.  

Our recent Lifecycle Analysis gave us a cow-to-cone picture of our carbon footprint. And when we calculate our carbon tax, we include every process that has a hand in creating our ice cream, from dairy production to the lights in our offices to the freezers that keep our ice cream cold in your local grocery store to the landfill where your pint container ends up. The dairy component is by far the biggest part of our footprint, accounting for about 42% of the overall lifecycle emissions of our ice cream. So we’ve started by working with farmers to develop and implement carbon footprint-reducing strategies, including manure separators that turn mega GHG methane into bedding for cows.

And we’re looking for ways to impact our entire supply chain, too, including agroforestry projects that generate local sustainability and climate change adaptation, too. It’s an ongoing process, as we’re always looking for where our investment will yield the biggest reductions in our overall carbon footprint, and we expect that to change over time.

We think it’s a pretty ambitious plan, not to toot our own cone. But we can’t do it alone— it’s going to take all you, our fans, to spread the message, and the policies of forward-thinking states like Vermont, to really make this work. More than that, we need governments everywhere to commit to putting a price on carbon pollution, and turn investment in dirty carbon into the clean energy future we all want. We’re hoping this strategy is just one that the Paris Climate Conference delegates will choose on the road to limiting CO2 emissions.