Ben & Jerry’s on Climate Change
At Ben & Jerry’s, we understand that climate change is not only the single biggest threat to our planet’s ecosystems and species, it is an existential threat to all life on the Earth.
It is cruel irony that frontline and indigenous communities that had no role in creating this problem, are those that are already being impacted first and worst by climate change. We must place issues of fairness and justice at the center of the fight to combat climate change.
As a for profit ice cream company, we’re part of the problem, but we’ve committed ourselves to be a catalyst for solutions, both within our business and at the economy wide policy level. We’ve committed to reduce the full lifecycle emissions of our company, which includes our own emissions and our supply chain.
The single largest source of our emissions come from the production of milk and cream used in the base mix of our dairy products. On-farm emissions represent about half of our carbon footprint across the entire lifecycle of our products. Our approach is to partner with the farmers that produce our milk and cream to reduce the environmental impact of this part of our business. We’ve been investing in technologies, research trials and agricultural practices that reduce on-farm emissions. This includes technologies like manure separators and digesters that reduce methane emissions to practices like cover cropping, no-till, and crop rotation which promote soil health. We are currently building manure digesters on farms in Vermont and the Netherlands, working with the University of Vermont to trial on-farm practices that have the potential to reduce the impact dairy farming has on the climate and ecosystems.
Our work is guided by our science-based greenhouse gas emission reduction goals we have set for our business. Our goals are part of the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), an independent third party standard in partnership with the WWF, the Carbon Disclosure Project, World Resources Institute, and the UN Global Compact. SBTi verifies greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for companies that are rooted in the latest climate science and consistent with pathways to keep average global temperature rise below 1.5ºC. Ben & Jerry’s uses 2015 as our baseline year and our approved science-based targets are:
- 100% renewable energy by 2025
- 40% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity by 2025
- 80% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity by 2050
In addition, our growing line of non-dairy flavors are an important part of achieving our Science Based Targets. Each pint of non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s has a carbon footprint roughly half that of a pint of our dairy ice cream. We’re strategically investing to grow our non-dairy business globally as part of our strategy to achieve our Science Based targets.
What you won’t find in our climate strategy is a claim that our business is ‘carbon neutral’, implying that a company has balanced carbon emissions with carbon removal often through ‘carbon offsetting’, the removal or sequestering of CO2 from the atmosphere to make up for emissions elsewhere. We don’t believe it’s honest or accurate to emit greenhouse gases in the production and distribution of our products, and then purchase offsets and make a claim of carbon neutrality. We believe the better path is to invest in lowering our emissions, not offsetting them. Instead, we’re insetting, making investments and working within our global supply chain to reduce the emissions related to our suppliers and our supply chain. It’s important however, that offsetting efforts are not just designed to allow marketeers to make claims of carbon neutrality. Companies must be transparent about their impacts and their efforts to migrate them to ensure that we avoid making hollow marketing claims that Greta Thunberg recently called, “clever accounting and creative PR”.
In addition to our work to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of our business and meet our Science Based Targets, we’re also fierce advocates for policies that rapidly decarbonize the global economy consistent with the latest science. We will continue to use our influence as a company and the connection we have with our fans to advocate for the following policies:
- Put a price on carbon
- Reduce carbon emissions (which means reducing fossil fuels) by at least 45% by 2030
- Transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050
- Stop using coal entirely
- Leave fossil fuels in the ground
- Divest fully from the fossil fuel industry
- Stop deforestation of old growth tropical forests
- Adopt regenerative agriculture practices that restore and maintain soil health and sequester carbon.
- Ensure support for developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation