The impact of climate change could increase the price of breakfast cereal and other household foods, a report by Oxfam has claimed, which found Kellogg and Nestlé are among the world’s ‘Big 10’ food and drink companies who collectively emit more greenhouses gases than Nordic countries combined.
In their report, Standing on the Sidelines, Oxfam called on the major food and drink companies to do more to tackle climate change after it found the so-called Big 10 were responsible for nearly 264 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2012 – more than Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined.
The international aid agency said the Big 10 included Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever, and called on them to start working towards reducing emissions that occur "outside their own four walls".
Half of the greenhouse gas emissions come from the production of agricultural commodities in the companies' supply chains. These emissions are not covered by targets each company sets to reduce their own emissions, the report claims, which was produced for Oxfam's Behind the Brands campaign.
1/7 Coastal systems and low-lying areas
Flood damaged streets in Queens, New York where the historic boardwalk was washed away due to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The report predicts that by the end of the century “hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding and displaced due to land loss”
2/7 Food security
Widespread drought devastated a corn crop on a farm near Bruceville, Indiana in 2012. The report forecasts that climate change will reduce median yields by up to 2 per cent per decade for the rest of the century
3/7 The global economy
The Evening Standard headline board showing the words 'Black Friday Shares Crash' in London in October 2008 in London. The report warns a global mean temperature increase of 2.5C above pre-industrial levels may lead to global aggregate economic losses of between 0.2 and 2.0 per cent
4/7 Human health
A child suffering from malnutrition and diarrhoea is seen at the Banadir hospital in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu in 2009. Climate change will lead to increases in ill-health in many regions, with examples including an increased likelihood of under-nutrition.
5/7 Human security
A Muslim migrant holds his son as they are detained at the Immigration Police Office on the Thai-Malaysian border in March 2014. The report states that climate change over the 21st century will have a significant impact on forms of migration that compromise human security
6/7 Freshwater resources
A villager walks through a parched paddy in Tianlin county, China in 2012. The report finds that climate change will “reduce renewable surface water and groundwater resources significantly in most dry subtropical regions"
7/7 Unique landscapes
Machair, a grassy coastal habitat found only in north-west Scotland and the west coast of Ireland, is one of the several elements of the UK’s “cultural heritage” that is at risk from climate change
It also singled out Kellogg and General Mills as among the "worst performers" for their climate change policies and called on them to reverse their position as "climate laggards". Only Nestlé, Unilever and to some extent Mars and Coca-Cola were vocal in encouraging policy makers and businesses to tackle climate change, it added.
“The food industry has a moral imperative and a business responsibility to dramatically step up its efforts to tackle climate change,” Oxfam's executive director Winnie Byanyima said. “The ‘Big 10' companies are failing to use their power responsibly and we will all suffer the consequences."
These “consequences” include rising food prices for consumers. Oxfam estimates climate change will hike up the retail price of General Mills' Kix cereal by up to 24 percent and Kellogg's Corn Flakes by as much as 44 per cent over the next 15 years.
It warned the companies could face financial ruin if they do not do more to tackle the issues with climate change because of the effects extreme weather conditions could have on production.
"They have the economic power to drive the required transformation of the food system and to influence the direction of the wider global economy," the report said. "Their vested interests coincide with the world's need for a cleaner and more equitable global food system and a sustainable energy system.
"But they are not properly acting upon this coincidence."
In a statement, Kellogg said: “Kellogg is committed to doing what’s right for the environment and society. As part of this commitment, we are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – along with energy use and water use – by 15–20 per cent at our manufacturing facilities by 2015.
"Oxfam has recognised our commitment to working with global palm oil suppliers to source fully traceable palm oil, produced in a manner that’s environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable."
General Mills said: "Climate Change is a serious issue, and as a food company we are very aware of the impact that climate change could have on agriculture and the world’s food supply.
"General Mills has been actively engaged in positively influencing climate policy and has been taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its operations for many years."