A-listed: Novozymes is top carbon cutter

By Louis Gore-Langton

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Greenhouse gas, Carbon dioxide

Novozymes has again been listed among the world’s top companies for climate action, but does its top spot on another scorecard really reflect a significant improvement in its carbon emissions, or is it merely a marketing tool?  

Following the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change mitigation, non-profits like the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) have sought to publically disclose carbon emissions records for large companies in order to encourage environmental progress.

Its ‘A List’ scorecard, released in Oslo on 25 October, ranked 193 companies as global leaders in climate change action and gave the Danish biotech company an A listing.

CDP has always been a highly regarded source of environmental progress ratings; SustainAbility Survey’s 2013 report ‘Polling the Experts’​ found CDP to be the most credible source of rating for corporate sustainability performance worldwide.

The ‘A List’ is compiled from data submitted by 1,089 companies that collectively account for 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Other major companies making the A List were Sony Corporation, LG Electronics, Goldman Sachs and Nestlé.

Last year, British based non-profit Influence Map listed BP (British Petroleum)​ as Europe’s least progressive company on climate action.  

However, the relevance and reliability of CDP’s data has been questioned on account of its use of voluntarily submitted data.

When asked how they ensured companies were not ‘greenwashing’ their statistics, a CDP spokesperson told FoodNavigator “Companies responding to CDP do so at the request of their investors and so it is in their interest to give an accurate representation to their investors of how they are managing climate change risks.”  ​Moreover, “verification is an important aspect of our scoring and in order to be eligible for the A-list… emissions data must be verified.”

Genuine progress made 

Novozymes’ ranking in the ‘A List’ was due to a 7% drop in its carbon emissions since 2014 which equalled avoiding an estimated 60 million tonnes of CO2 emissions – equivalent to the output of 25 million cars.

This was achieved by implementing 40 energy saving strategies aimed at reducing its carbon emissions by 25% by the year 2020.

Novozymes gave three examples of its most effective energy saving strategies from 2015. Firstly, reusing waste heat from a biogas engine helped spare approximately 2,667 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Secondly, the centralising of multiple chilled water systems led to 2,572 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions savings.

Lastly, a project to recover excess heat from air compressors resulted in replacing more than 50% of steam used to heat buildings' ventilation and water production.

However, Edward Gallagher of Novozymes also told FoodNavigator: “The biggest changes will be in terms of the types of food that are consumed​… Consumers can be a significant force for change when they mobilize and make consumption decisions.”

Some items, i.e. meat, are very intensive and require enormous quantities of resources to produce – as well as having a substantial climate impact, such as methane releases from cows... the use of water in raising crops from wheat to coffee – this is unknown to consumers. The fact it takes more than 1000 litres of water to make a ‘standard’ loaf of bread.”  

He added: “There is a role for regulators as well to use policy to shift behaviour at a faster rate.​”

Whilst Novozymes’ rating in the CDP ‘A List’ does present a genuine progress within the industry, this may only reflect a relatively small development in mitigating carbon emissions and climate change. 

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