About two-thirds of General Mills' greenhouse gas emissions and 99% of its water use comes from its indirect operations such as the farms it purchases raw materials from.
The Minneapolis-based company known for brands such as Cheerios, Pillsbury and Haagen-Dazs pledged to include their supply chain in its emission reporting and greenhouse gas reduction targets.
"As weather volatility increases, General Mills recognizes the need to mitigate the climate change risks presented to humanity, our environment and our livelihoods," John Church, executive vice president of supply chain operations for the company, wrote in a blog post. "The urgency is clear: science-based evidence points to changes in climate that could permanently alter the atmosphere if action isn't taken in the near term. "
The announcement comes two months after the international advocacy group Oxfam called on the world's 10 largest food and beverage companies to reduce their carbon footprint. It criticized General Mills for not including its supply chain in emission reporting. The group welcomed the news Monday.
"Today General Mills has taken a bold step to be an industry leader in addressing the clear and present threat climate change poses to our food system," said Monique van Zijl, campaign manager for Oxfam's Behind the Brands campaign, which targeted the food and beverage industry, in a prepared statement. "Rather than stand by silently as increasingly dangerous conditions undermine its business and the food we all eat, General Mills aims to be part of the solution. Political leaders and others in the industry should take note."
General Mills also promised not to contribute to deforestation in supply chains such as beef, soy and sugarcane where deforestation has been rampant. That expands on the company's existing pledge not to purchase palm oil from deforested land.