We were proud to be in Paris in December 2015 when world leaders came together to do something really important: they adopted a global framework to collectively combat climate change and committed to keeping average global temperature rise to well below 2º Celsius. This was a historic moment that was many years in the making. However, Paris was not the end; it was only the beginning.
With the release of the most recent IPCC report, the consensus of the global scientific community couldn’t be clearer: our world is already seeing the devastating effects of climate change and time is running to act to avoid even more catastrophic consequences.
From drought and devastating wildfires across North America to accelerating rates of sea level rise and more powerful hurricanes, the real victims of a warming planet are not just polar bears and ice sheets, but people.
However, the effects of climate change are not felt equally. The cruel irony of climate change is that people in the developing world — those who can least afford to adapt — will pay the steepest price for the 200 years of industrialization and pollution from the developed world. This truly is an issue of climate justice.
While we know that the time is short to act, the incredibly good news is that we know what we need to do and have the technology to do it. With renewable energy sources like wind and solar, advancements in energy efficiency in homes and offices, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, and regenerative agriculture which can capture greenhouse gas pollution, we have all the tools we need to get to work.
The IPCC’s recent report said that avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and keeping warming below 1.5º Celsius would “require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” While this may seem daunting, it’s also an opportunity to transform our economy and workforce into the clean energy economy of the future.
We understand that the greenhouse gas footprint of producing ice cream is significant. Each pint of ice cream we make produces roughly 2 lbs of greenhouse gasses. We’ve worked hard over the years to reduce our emissions at all levels of our supply chain. We’ve installed a solar array at our Waterbury, VT factory that generates one third of that plant’s electricity. We’ve installed a bio-digester at our Hellendoorn factory in the Netherlands that turns ice cream waste from the manufacturing processes into clean energy that helps power the plant, and we’ve helped pioneer technology for climate friendly (i.e. HFC-free) freezer cases. But to be clear, it’s not enough and there is much more work to be done.
Ben & Jerry’s has just adopted a new climate goal across our entire value chain. The goal is part of a growing movement called the Science Based Targets Initiative, a collaboration between the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and one of the We Mean Business Coalition commitments. The SBTI helps companies set targets in line with the latest climate science, so that we as a business community can do our part to keep warming well below 2ºC.
If it’s melted, it’s ruined. It’s true for ice cream, and it’s true for the planet. Time is running out to avoid the most catastrophic impacts from climate change by keeping temperature rise below 1.5ºC, but as we rebuild our economies damaged from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opening to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.
Responses at every level must uphold these five principles:
Avaaz is a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.
The Climate Reality Project is a nonprofit organization focused on climate change education and clean power advocacy. They encourage citizens to get smart, get loud, and get active to affect change.
350.org is a climate change movement that’s organizing, empowering, and informing citizens in 188 countries to pressure their leaders into addressing climate change and cutting emissions. The name stems from the goal of reducing the atmosphere’s C02 levels from its current 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.
BICEP is an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation that will enable a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate.