Investors put pressure on fast food companies to take climate action

Global investors representing more than $6.5 trillion have called on six of the largest fast food companies to act urgently on the climate and water risks in their supply chains.

The investors sent letters to Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Wendy’s and the owners of Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut, asking them to explain by March 2019 how they will enact meaningful policies and targets to reduce the climate and water risks in their meat and dairy supply chains. The action was facilitated by sustainability organization Ceres and the FAIRR Initiative.

The companies targeted manage over 120,000 restaurants worldwide, and with a heavy environmental impact. To put it in perspective, if the cows used in the fast food sector’s meat and dairy products were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases,  Jeremy Coller, founder of FAIRR and Chief Investment Officer of Coller Capital, said in a statement. “Animal agriculture is one of the world’s highest-emitting sectors without a low-carbon plan”, he said, which is why investors are calling for more strategic and innovative thinking on the sector’s part.

More specifically, the investors – which include BMO Global Asset Management and Aegon Asset Management – want the fast food companies to adopt a supplier policy with clear requirements for suppliers of animal protein products to report as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater impacts. They also want the companies to publish quantitative, time-bound targets to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater impacts of their own meat and dairy supply chains as well as publicly disclose progress on these targets each year.

According to FAIRR, agricultural emissions, including those from meat and dairy, are on track to contribute around 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, creating a massive gap between projected emissions and the target level required to keep global warming under a 2C threshold. More than 70 per cent of meat and livestock index companies do not have targets in place for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Fast-food giants deliver speedy meals, but they have been super slow in responding to their out-sized environmental footprints,” said Mindy Lubber, president and CEO of Ceres.

“Investors are eager to see more leadership from these companies to reduce the mounting climate and water risks linked to their meat and dairy suppliers. From eliminating deforestation to reducing water waste, cleaning up their supply chains will have enormous impacts on the animal agriculture sector as a whole, and dramatically increase our ability to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.”

Image credit: Sunnie-Lee Davison via Unsplash

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