Assessing the quality and scope of corporate target setting in 2021 by food and beverage companies.
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Mitigating Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions to avoid dangerous climate change can be achieved with the support of private sector corporations. The largest companies in the Food and Beverage (FB) sector already measure their emissions and set targets accordingly. Yet, reporting and target setting is done with varying levels of integrity and transparency, particularly in the intensive animal agriculture sector. By assessing the quality and coverage of targets and self-reported emissions in the FB sector for 2021, this thesis provides a systematic review of corporate climate action and recommendations. The method used for this thesis is based on two existing methodologies, one assessing the quality of company reporting and the other estimating the emissions of companies involved in animal processing. To assess the completeness of reporting, CDP and self-reported data from other sources were compared with previous analyses, to present an updated review. In addition, total value chain emissions were estimated for companies that process animal products in order to present an expected target coverage that includes underreporting. This was done using the FAO's GLEAM methodology. Lastly, to combine these analyses into a single figure (12), the growth of the companies was estimated, and the associated emissions were plotted from 2021 to 2050. Three separate analyses of the 50 highest grossing FB companies were conducted to provide these new insights, using literature, growth projection data, and company emissions and target data. The results show that the targets set by the 46 FB companies – which altogether reported 1097 MtCO2e in 2021 – cover only 42% of the self-reported emissions. The analysis of the meat and dairy (M&D) sector estimated the total value chain emissions to assess target coverage without underreporting. According to self-reporting M&D companies set targets promising to reduce 59% of their 2021 emissions. However, compared to estimated emissions the target coverage significantly dropped to 13%. This indicates a gross under-reporting of emissions in the sub-sectors, although the under-reporting of emissions by the dairy sector is much less severe. The dairy targets covered 62% (37%) of self-reported (estimated) emissions, while meat company targets covered 43% (9%) of self-reported (estimated) emissions. This difference between self-reported and estimated emissions indicates a major lack of reporting in the meat sector. These results show that the food and beverage sector still needs to improve its management and reporting of GHG emissions, with the meat processing sector requiring the most attention. There is a need to improve the transparency and completeness of reporting and the integrity of reduction targets. In addition, relevant Scope 3 emissions need to be reported, as their relationship to land use is essential for setting targets with a wider scope. Based on this research, large companies need to use the influence of their size and reduce the significant amounts of emissions they are associated with to make the Paris Agreement possible.