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Taking ambitious action on climate change

Stefano Agostini, Nestlé UK & Ireland CEO

Nestlé has published its global climate roadmap to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 – even as the company continues to grow. Nestlé UK & Ireland CEO, Stefano Agostini, writes for Nestlé.co.uk about the importance of this work and why he’s supporting ambitious action and collaboration ahead of COP26 in Glasgow next year.

Climate change is the challenge of our time and there is no longer a choice about whether to act, only how we do it, and how quickly.

As a food and beverage business we will be at the forefront of the impacts of climate change. More extreme weather conditions and increases in temperatures will directly impact food production and influence the supply-demand chain. While the food system is a significant contributor to climate change, it also has a unique opportunity to be a significant part of the solution.

That’s why I am proud that Nestlé is taking such ambitious and bold global action to address climate change to be net zero emissions by 2050 and to halve them by 2030. And we are one of the first companies to publish our roadmap detailing how we will get there. It’s not going to be easy, and we’ll need to work across our whole business, with our suppliers, our customers, our peers and with Governments to help us get there and meet the shared aim of avoiding dangerous climate change.

To accomplish our goal, we will be focusing on three key areas:

  • Driving a step change in the way food is produced through regenerative agriculture. We’ll be working with our suppliers and farmers to incentivise on-farm practices that improve soil health, maintain and restore diverse ecosystems and safeguard water resources. We’ll also be redoubling our efforts to stop deforestation and to restore trees through an ambitious reforestation programme.
  • Getting our operations, over 800 sites across 187 countries where we are present, to 100% renewable energy within the next 5 years. This will include shifting our vehicles to lower emission options and offsetting all business travel by 2022.
  • Innovating and evolving within our product portfolio to accelerate the move to net-zero of our brands. We’ll also be looking at reformulating our products and packaging to be more sustainable and expanding our offering of plant-based foods. 
 

The good news is we are not starting from scratch on this journey. We have already made strong progress in the UK and Ireland. We’ve been working to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions for over a decade and have achieved a 61% reduction per tonne of product since 2007. This has been the result of energy efficiency improvements in our factories and sites and making a bold transition in 2016 to 100% renewable energy. We made some significant investments in new wind power capacity, solar panels, hydropower and anaerobic digestion to help us make this shift.

We’ve also made big steps forward on packaging. We have introduced innovative paper packaging for our YES! snackbar range. Buxton Waters is moving towards 100% recycled content for its entire range, and will achieve this in 2021, working with Biffa to help accelerate the circular economy for recycled plastics. Most recently, we announced a collaboration with Jacobs Douwe Egberts for a brand new end-to-end recycling system for coffee pods, known as Podback.

We know there is a lot more to do and a lot more that we need to do in collaboration with others. We have stepped up our commitment and we’re calling on others to join us.

On 12th December, the UK is co-hosting a UN summit to start the clock towards next year’s global climate change conference of parties, COP26. World leaders will gather to make decisions and set out the trajectory for creating a world that safeguards people and nature from the impacts of climate change. I believe we have a responsibility to lead by example through ambitious commitments and action in the UK.

As the world prepares to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, we have a real opportunity to put the environment at the heart of our political and business decision making to enable us to build back better.

We as businesses have a key role to play and we at Nestlé are ready for the challenge and know that ambitious and urgent action is the only way forward. The world will be watching, we cannot fail.

Stefano Agostini

To see Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider’s video about the need for urgent and collective action on climate change you can visit: https://www.climateambitionsummit2020.org/ondemand.php