Danone, Firmenich invest in carbon impact fund

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

New Carbon Fund launched to help vulnerable populations ©iStock
New Carbon Fund launched to help vulnerable populations ©iStock

Related tags Carbon dioxide

Danone and Firmenich, alongside six other partners, are investing in a second Livelihoods Carbon Fund that aims to raise €100m by the end of 2018 to accelerate their actions on climate change.

The Fund will officially be launched in Paris next week (11 December) ahead of the International Climate Summit.

A spokesperson for Danone revealed that Danone and Firmenich, alongside Crédit Agricole, Hermès, Michelin, SAP, Schneider Electric and Voyageurs du Monde, have already raised €50m. The French dairy giant said it is not disclosing how much Danone is putting in the pot.

The Fund builds on the first Livelihoods Fund, which was launched in 2011. It will increase the “scale and number”​ of projects that aim to fight climate change by “restoring ecosystems”​ that provide “vital resources to the most vulnerable populations”​. The Livelihoods Fund will start investing in ecosystem restoration, agroforestry and energy projects next year.

Progress to date

According to data from the Carbon Fund, to date it has helped 1 million beneficiaries among the “most vulnerable” populations in developing countries.

Key results include:

-          130 million trees planted, equivalent to 5 times the surface area of Paris;

-          120,000 families equipped with efficient cook stoves to mitigate deforestation and preserve women’s health;

-          10 million tons of CO2 to be off-set or avoided (projects span over 10 to 20 years).

“The investment model of the Livelihoods Fund has proven that we can build large-scale projects connecting worlds seemingly far from each other: large companies acting against climate change and poor communities faced with the effects of climate change. The results we have achieved since 2011 encourage us to move forward by building on our learnings. This new fund offers an interesting platform to investors who want to have a real impact on climate,”​ commented Bernard Giraud, president and co-founder of Livelihoods Venture.

Specifically, the second Fund aims to “improve the lives”​ of 2m farmers and reduce carbon emissions by up to 25m tons over a 20-year period. Its primary investment focus will be on developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Danone spokesperson said that the project will enable companies contributing to the fund to “voluntarily offset part of their CO2 emissions”​, in addition to their own efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

The spokesperson stressed, however, that this is just one aspect of Danone’s climate efforts. “We would like to highlight, however, that Danone's actions of compensation only come after our overall strategic ambition to reduce our carbon emissions, a commitment that was recently reaffirmed with the official recognition of the Science-Based Targets Initiative. Danone's investment in the Livelihoods Carbon fund is one of the components of our overall strategy, whose fundamental pillar is the work done within our entire value chain.”

Taking the lead on climate change

Fimenich CEO Gilbert Ghostine said that the move reflects a need for business to “play an even bigger leadership role​” to tackle climate change.

“I am excited about this new Carbon Fund, our most ambitious and innovative to date, as it will positively preserve nature while enhancing the livelihoods of farming communities around the world. By joining this impact investment fund with like-minded visionary companies, we can all scale up our impact together.”

Meanwhile, Danone executive vice president and chief financial officer Cécile Cabanis said that the initiative was part of the group’s ambition to become “fully carbon neutral​” by 2050. “The first Livelihoods Carbon Fund has successfully been supporting this objective, developing climate positive solutions while restoring ecosystems and providing social benefits to local communities. It is thus with great enthusiasm that we support today the creation of this second fund to continue co-creating solutions for a decarbonized economy.”

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