World’s largest meat company JBS joins Race to Zero initiative

The world’s largest meat company, JBS, met with COP26 President Alok Sharma to formally join the Race to Zero campaign, building on a net-zero commitment set earlier this year.

World’s largest meat company JBS joins Race to Zero initiative

JBS’s chief executive Gilberto Tomazoni met with Alok Sharma

JBS’s chief executive Gilberto Tomazoni met with Alok Sharma, President-Designate of COP26, the UK Ambassador to Brazil Peter Wilson and United Nations Conference on Climate Change Gonzalo Munoz to formally join Race to Zero.

In joining Race to Zero, corporates commit to setting more ambitious targets in line with climate science and to using their reach to encourage climate action across their networks. This includes suppliers, customers and their respective sectors. 

As of March 2021, Race to Zero participants collectively cover nearly 25% of global carbon emissions and more than 50% of global GDP, with almost one in three FTSE100 companies signed up to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign.

According to the UK’s COP26 unit, FTSE100 signatories to Race to Zero represent a total market capitalization of £650m. This is before smaller businesses, non-listed firms and businesses covered by industry collaborations, like Water UK’s net-zero by 2030 roadmap, are accounted for.

At the meeting, hosted by the UK Embassy, Tomazoni outlined the challenges the food sector was facing but reiterated JBS’s commitment to net-zero emissions.

Tomazoni said: “If we accept that the main challenge we now face is how to supply the world’s growing population of vital items – such as food, energy and clothing – without further sacrificing our planet, Brazil’s role is crucial! We are one of the few countries in the world capable of producing and preserving at the same time.

“Of course, Brazil still has a lot to do. We have a lot to improve on. In particular, in the fight against deforestation. That’s undeniable. We also need to leverage our regenerative agriculture. There are already solutions in the field to expand production and sequester carbon. We must scale these initiatives and invest in new technologies to keep moving forward.

“JBS is committed to leading the way. Investing in research and development as part of our commitment to be net-zero by 2040. COP26 can help us by sharing the challenges and solutions for increasingly regenerative agriculture. In addition, it can contribute to the mission of ensuring that we do not leave small producers behind.”

Net-zero meat

Earlier this year, the company became the largest in its sector to commit to net-zero. It unveiled a commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. The target will see JBS reduce its global scope 1 and 2 emission intensity by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. The target will cover the company’s global operations and a supply chain that spans South America, North America, Europe, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The net-zero target will be supported by a $1bn investment in incremental capital expenditure over the next 10 years, primarily focused on emissions reduction projects. A $100m investment into research projects that will enable regenerative farming practices, including carbon sequestration and on-farm emission mitigation technologies has also been confirmed.

JBS will develop interim targets that are consistent with criteria issued by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for the 1.5C ambition. The company has also 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.

JBS has also committed to eliminating all cases of illegal Amazon deforestation from its supply chain by 2025 and across other Brazilian regions by 2030. The wider ambition is to achieve zero deforestation across its global supply chain by 2035.

This has proven a controversial area for JBS. The company has also been heavily linked to deforestation in Brazil and has been listed as one of the worst polluters of US waterways. A joint investigation by Réporter Brasil, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Guardian in 2020 found that JBS had been linked to cattle supplied from the Brazilian Amazon from a supplier under sanction for illegal deforestation.

Matt Mace

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