JBS makes fresh commitments to net-zero emissions and zero deforestation

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Getty/Marcio Insensee e Sa
Getty/Marcio Insensee e Sa

Related tags Jbs Greenhouse gas Environment deforestation

The meat giant and world’s second-largest food company has announced a new pledge to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040 and zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035.

The net-zero commitment spans the company’s global operations, including Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, as well as its diverse value chain of agricultural producer partners, suppliers and customers in their efforts to reduce emissions across the value chain.

JBS said the net-zero commitment marks a first for the global meat and poultry sector and reflects the company’s goal to meet the health and nutritional needs of the growing global population in a sustainable manner that preserves the planet’s resources for future generations.

The Brazilian company has been widely criticised by environmental groups for its role in driving deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. It recently shared with FoodNavigator the comprehensive measures it is taking to identify malpractice in its deep and complex supply chains​.   

In Brazil, for example, JBS currently monitors 100% of its direct cattle suppliers for illegal Amazon deforestation and is leveraging blockchain technology to monitor the suppliers of its suppliers.

The measures reported comprehensively by FoodNavigator included a pledge to eliminate illegal Amazon deforestation from its supply chain – including the suppliers of its suppliers – by 2025, a move which Greenpeace said didn’t go far enough.

In its latest announcement, however, JBS said it will eliminate illegal deforestation in other Brazilian biomes by 2030 and will achieve zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035.

As part of its commitment, the company has signed on to the United Nations Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative, which aligns with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

The company added it will develop GHG emission reduction targets across its global operations and value chains in South America, North America, Europe, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. It will provide a time-bound roadmap that provides interim targets consistent with the criteria set forth by the Science Based Targets initiative for a 1.5°C trajectory. The company will also provide annual updates on progress to ensure transparency and disclose its financial risks linked to climate change, in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) initiative, it said.

Other strategies the company will adopt include:

  • Reducing direct emissions in its facilities:​ JBS will reduce its global scope 1 and 2 emission intensity by at least 30% by 2030 against base year 2019.
  • Investing in the future: ​JBS will invest more than $1 billion in incremental capital expenditures over the next decade in emission reduction projects. The company will engage its team members and award funding for projects to its facilities using a panel consisting of company executives, specialists and academics.
  • Using 100% renewable electricity in its facilities​: JBS will join RE100 and convert to 100% renewable electricity across its global facilities by 2040.
  • Fostering innovation​: JBS will invest $100 million by 2030 in research and development projects to assist producer efforts to strengthen and scale regenerative farming practices, including carbon sequestration and on-farm emission mitigation technologies. This investment will contribute to reducing scope 3 emissions across the value chain, in our efforts toward net zero.
  • Ensuring accountability:​ Across the company, performance against environmental goals, including GHG emission reduction targets, will be part of senior executive compensation considerations.

“Climate change is the great challenge of our time and we must act urgently to combat the negative effects of global warming,”​ said Gilberto Tomazoni, JBS’s global chief executive officer. “As one of the most diversified global food companies, we have an opportunity to leverage our scale and influence to help lead a sustainable transformation of agricultural markets that empowers producers, suppliers, customers and consumers. Agriculture can and must be part of the global climate solution. We believe through innovation, investment and collaboration, net zero is within our collective grasp.”

In response, Greenpeace called the announcement a major step backward from a pledge originally made in 2009 to deliver zero deforestation across the entire Amazon supply base by 2011 demonstrated by full transparency. The current announcement only addresses illegal deforestation in Brazil by 2030, it said.  Daniela Montalto, forest and food campaigner at Greenpeace UK said: “For the sake of its profit margins, JBS continues to sacrifice the climate, biodiversity and law compliance. Its new announcement couldn’t make it more clear: JBS will continue to fuel deforestation in the Amazon and beyond and fuel the climate crisis for at least another 14 years. At this point, governments, financial institutions and buyers that continue to trade with JBS will be making a mockery of any sustainability commitments. What is more, they will be knowingly complicit in fuelling the environmental catastrophe that looms our planet.”

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