The Earth Day Pivot
Last week corporations, governments and NGO's around the world marked Earth Day with an astounding number of commitments to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.
In a year of disruption, two truths were unveiled underpinning this pivot:
·Our globe is interconnected; and what one country or business does (or does not do) impacts everyone else, and
·The impacts of climate change are ever present. California burned (again), Texas froze, ice melted and immigrants surged the borders as crops failed in Central America due to both drought and floods.
Faced with these realities, many commentators believe 2021 will mark the beginning of a sustainable evolution similar to the technology boom of the 1990’s. What was once optional, now seems necessary.
So, what exactly happened last week, and how will it impact the sugar sector?
1) Almost every major US based, publicly traded, food company made commitments to reduce green house gas emissions, engage in regenerative agriculture, reduce deforestation, or minimize water and waste.
In a bold statement, PepsiCo announced an impact-driven goal to spread regenerative farming practices across 7 million acres, approximately equal to its entire agricultural footprint. The company estimates the effort will eliminate at least 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by the end of the decade. Additional 2030 goals within the agenda include improving the livelihoods of more than 250,000 people in its agricultural supply chain and sustainably sourcing 100% of its key ingredients.
Other industry leaders such as Unilever, General Mills and Danone also took the opportunity to restate their sustainability commitments.
2) The United States, the world's second-leading emitter after China, took actions to reclaim global leadership in the fight against global warming. The US proposed ambitious goals along with significant investment in industries and technologies to reduce GHG emissions.
Agricultural is hoping for financial incentives to reduce carbon. Real estate investors will be looking for assistance in refitting buildings. And investments in infrastructure including our roads and our waterways will hopefully make the transport of sugar efficient and more economical. All of this investment has the potential to secure our supply chains from mill to end users and to improve their efficiency.
3) With the tremendous interest in ESG reporting by investors and insurers, all eyes will be on supply chains and data management to manage data and report against short and long term goals. The evidence shows that what is good for the environment is also good for the economy.
4) ESG reporting will increase the demand for certified cane sugar such as Bonsucro and Fairtrade who already collect much of this needed impact data.
CSC and Sugaright appreciate these bold, aspirational goals and commitments, but we also understand metrics and thus believe that meeting long term impacts will only happen with a road map that includes 1) realistic achievements and 2) timelines and cooperation by all stakeholders.
The challenges are not small, but as our customers have inspired us with their roadmaps, we will continue to reduce our environmental impact in practical and measurable ways throughout our supply chain. Our less processed liquid sugar and our strategically located refineries were designed from day one to be environmentally friendly.
We strive to be good global citizens and welcome this evolution as a time of transformative change for the benefit of all.