The greenhouse gas emitting impact of meat and dairy farming has long been accepted to be significant, but new analysis from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Changing Markets Foundation shows just how significant. The combined methane emissions of 15 of the planet’s biggest meat and dairy companies are higher than some of the world’s biggest countries including Canada, Russia and Australia, and equal to 80% of the emissions from the European Union.
If the 15 companies were a country, it would be the 10th largest greenhouse emitting nation on the planet. Among the report’s recommendations are greater transparency about methane production with stricter reporting requirements for meat and dairy producers, and regulation to encourage companies to transition away from factory animal farming.
Lab food approved
The US Food and Drug Administration has declared a laboratory-grown meat product to be safe for human consumption for the first time. The Californian company Upside Foods has been given the green light to produce a product grown in a lab derived from living cells taken from chickens. The resultant meat product will not require the slaughter of any birds. The FDA has also indicated it is ready to approve other similar products, and is engaged with other companies with lab-grown meat in development.
Singapore is the only country where such products are sold to consumers, but many believe that the US move could mean a rapid growth in the sector that is widely accepted to have less environmental impact than traditional protein production.
Paper coffee capsules
The Nespresso coffee brand from Nestle is to launch a pilot scheme for compostable paper-based coffee capsules in France and Switzerland in spring 2023, with the aim of rolling them out across Europe over a 12-month period. The pods have been developed over three years and are designed to meet increasing consumer demands for compostable packaging. They complement Nespresso’s current aluminium coffee capsules.
Nespresso says that the paper-based capsules are designed for home recycling – the aluminium pods must be recycled via the network of 100,000 collection points in 70 countries that the company has established. The paper-based capsules are designed to be completely compatible with existing Nespresso machines.
Cocoa pricing spat continues
In the latest twist in an ongoing row about cocoa pricing, the authorities in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have punish companies that visit farms in the two countries to estimate future harvests, which is used to forecast future prices for the commodity. Around 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced in the west African countries and their cocoa trade bodies had already boycotted meetings of the World Cocoa Foundation in Brussels recently in protest at perceived undermining of the living income differential policy, which places a premium of $400 a tonne on cocoa, to boost farm incomes.
The latest row is around cocoa traders allegedly depressing the price of a separate premium – the origin differential, which is paid for quality and reliability of the crop. This differential has dropped significantly, effectively cancelling out the living income boost. How this all plays out is unclear – but what is certain is the need for the farmers to sell their beans given the importance of the cocoa sector to the economies of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Apparel forest pledge
Coinciding with COP27 was an announcement from a group of leading apparel brands to source 550,000 tonnes of sustainable alternatives to raw materials from ancient or endangered forests. As part of the Next Generation Solutions commitment, H+M, Inditex, Stella McCartney, Kering, Ben & Jerry’s and others have pledged to purchase low-carbon alternative fibres for textiles and paper packaging.
The commitment has been led by environmental non-profit Canopy, and is designed as a market pull to attract the investment necessary to scale the market for low-carbon fibres. The companies signed up are already committed to ensuring their supply chains are free of ancient and endangered forests.
The COP process itself seems set for reform following the rather chaotic close to the meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh. Reports emerged that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, under whose auspices the COP meetings are held, plans to review processes to make them more effective.
Many participants expressed dissatisfaction with the handling of negotiations at COP27, including the limited time allowed for national teams to review draft communique texts and the seeming over representation of the fossil fuel sector. That is, of course not a new complaint. However, if nothing else the COP process needs to be trusted and respected by all parties involved, so what changes in process emerge before COP28 will be keenly monitored.
93% big companies to miss climate targets
New research from Accenture says that while more and more big companies are setting net zero targets, almost all of them will fail to meet these commitments unless they double the rates at which they are reducing emissions. Of the world’s 2,000 largest public and private companies, 34% have set net zero targets but, of these, 93% risk missing targets based on current rates of change.
On a more positive note, Accenture’s research finds that worldwide renewable energy investment in the first half of 2022 was $226bn, the most ever recorded for the opening six months of a calendar year. The demand for renewable energy really is growing ever more.