Mars, Incorporated this week announced its commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its full value chain by 2050, aligning with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 °C.
This stepped-up commitment follows findings in the July Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which reinforced the urgency of achieving net zero globally to prevent the worst impacts of global warming – a critical focus of next month’s COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow. Mars is joining the Science Based Targets Initiative’s “Business Ambition for 1.5C pledge” and the Race to Zero, as the company accelerates its work to achieve net zero emissions by focusing on:
- Absolute emissions reductions across its entire GHG footprint including all scope 3 emissions such as indirect emissions (e.g., business travel, retail customer emissions, use of sold products, and product end-of-life) and setting 5-year milestones to drive action and track progress
- Eliminating deforestation in its supply chain – particularly in key raw materials that have the greatest impact on emissions
- Linking executive pay to delivering GHG value chain emission reductions
- Challenging 20,000+ suppliers in the Mars value chain to take climate action and to set meaningful targets
“The scale of global intervention must be bolder and faster. Climate change is already impacting the planet and people’s lives. To mitigate this real and tangible threat, the science tells us net zero targets must be broad in their reach, capturing emissions across the entire value chain and plans need to have material, interim targets. We can’t wait decades to see progress. However, all too often, this simply isn’t the case – and the gaps that exist in some net zero commitments risks undermining their credibility, and even more importantly, the climate action movement. We can’t allow that to happen,” Mars Chief Executive Officer Grant F. Reid said.
“To deliver meaningful impact and ensure it is fit for purpose, our net zero target covers our entire GHG footprint, from how we source materials through to how consumers use our products and, we’re mobilizing our entire business around taking action now and hitting interim targets every five years. This is going to be a significant challenge, and it we won’t be able to achieve net zero without the collaboration of our associates, suppliers, customers, consumers and industry partners. It’s so important that we work together to drive scale and reach,” Reid said.
“We need to overhaul the supply chains which power global business and put an end to deforestation and the conversion of natural ecosystems to drive meaningful change now. We can’t use long-term ambitions as an excuse for inaction and delay,” Reid said.
Mars has been driving climate action on emissions for more than a decade with an existing commitment – set in 2009 – to achieve net zero in direct operations by 2040.
This announcement builds on the company’s existing Sustainable in a Generation Plan, advancing its previous pledge to cut emissions in its full value chain by 67% by 2050 and reaffirming an ambitious near-term target to cut GHGs in its full value chain by 27% by 2025.
Since 2015, Mars has cut emissions in its full value chain by 7.3% despite the business continuing to grow. In its direct operations, Mars has already reduced emissions 31% and is on-track to achieve is interim 2025 target (42% reduction).
The company’s largest brand, Royal Canin, is a global leader in supporting pet health through nutrition. Royal Canin will pursue carbon neutrality for its full portfolio in 2025, with its first product range aiming to be certified carbon neutral in 2022. This will be achieved through: projects financed by an internal price on carbon, a science-based methodology to calculate each product’s carbon footprint, adhering to the PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality, a mutual approach with value chain partners to minimize GHG emissions and by supporting high-quality carbon credit initiatives for remaining emissions.
“Our brands play a crucial role in driving progress and especially in connecting this issue with consumers. I’m pleased that we can make this commitment to a more sustainable future for people, pets and the planet,” Reid said.
Delivering net zero
A full net zero roadmap will be developed and published in 2022 to align with the anticipated Science-Based Target Initiative rules on net zero commitments, expected by the end of 2021.
To achieve net zero, some of the numerous initiatives active across Mars include:
- Transitioning to 100% renewable energy. Mars has already made strong progress towards its commitment to reach zero GHG emissions in its direct operations by 2040 (including factories, offices, and veterinary practices). It now sources 100% renewable electricity for the entirety of its direct operations in 11 countries, accounting for more than 54% of its global electricity needs, with plans to make the switch in another 8 countries by 2025. This includes accounting for the growth of the business – such as in the U.S. where Mars recently announced a new power purchase agreement with the Ford Ridge Wind Farm in Illinois, which will not only cover the recent growth of the Mars Veterinary Health business in the U.S., but also includes two of its U.S. suppliers.
- Urgently redesigning its supply chains to stop deforestation. Mars is redesigning its supply chains to help stop deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems in five key raw materials identified as having the greatest risk: cocoa, beef, palm oil, pulp and paper and soy. Action will include a continued shift away from purchasing ingredients based on cost alone – and will focus on enhanced transparency and traceability around the commodities it sources. Mars recently delivered a deforestation-free palm oil supply chain, reducing the number of palm mills from 1,500 to less than 90 mills this year to enable the implementation of strict standards and satellite monitoring. Additionally, it has a goal for all its high-forest risk commodities (beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy) and cocoa to be deforestation-free by 2025.
- Scaling up initiatives in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. Mars will strengthen its programs with farmers to limit GHG emissions and move towards regenerative agriculture. This includes working with farmers and suppliers to promote improved agricultural practices, to promote sustainable land use and to support science and technology, such as genomics research, that pinpoints how to produce more resilient and higher yielding crops. Mars will also take further action to improve soil health to unlock crop yield potential and provide other environmental and climate change benefits. Projects underway include the Cool Soil Initiative, which is supporting resilience in wheat production in Australia, the Sustainable Dairy Partnership, which is scaling up collaboration between dairy suppliers and buyers around the globe, and Oryzonte, a program to improve rice agriculture in Spain, reducing both water use and methane emissions.
- Challenging its 20,000 suppliers to take climate action. Mars is prioritizing collaboration and partnership with suppliers to drive change through the full value chain. This includes its Pledge for Planet program and the recently announced Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition (S-LoCT) which aims to encourage suppliers to calculate their own GHG footprints and to set their own science-based targets. The program provides training and capability building with the ambition to sign up other brands to join and scale the project throughout the supply chain.
Barry Parkin, Mars Chief Sustainability and Procurement Officer said, “mobilizing action in the extended supply chain would be critical to delivering emissions reductions in the coming years. More than three quarters of our impacts are embedded in the materials that we purchase – so we must change what we buy or where we buy it or, perhaps more importantly, how we buy it. It is also clear that further transformation of agriculture is needed. We will push the boundaries of what is possible through regenerative agriculture, and this will require an acceleration of our work, along with deeper and more integrated partnerships with our suppliers, and stronger government frameworks that incentivize sustainable practices.”
Mars is also committed to ensuring that any residual emissions the business cannot get to zero are neutralized with real, durable, and socially beneficial carbon credits based on removing carbon from the atmosphere, aligned with the SBTi Net Zero Foundations paper. This will include identifying and investing in projects that are focused on the highest ecological, social and carbon impact, such as its recent investment in the €150m Livelihoods Carbon Fund 3, along with 13 other investors and companies.
“Our roadmap to net zero clearly prioritizes reducing our own emissions but there is a recognition within the science community that the agricultural sector will be particularly hard to completely decarbonize. Therefore, carbon removal credits will have to play a part in helping us to neutralize any remaining emissions. In doing this, we will apply a high level of rigor so that any credits we buy are removing carbon from the atmosphere and that is tracked with strong science and monitoring,” Parkin said.
Limiting global warming to 1.5C will also require transformational change across industry, government, and wider society. Mars will continue its advocacy for policies to help deliver against the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. For example, Mars will advocate for a simple, clear, and transparent price on carbon. This could make the business case even more compelling and drive a greater number of companies to take more decisive action to reduce emissions.
For further information on the Mars Sustainable in a Generation Plan and climate commitments, visit www.mars.com/sustainability-plan.