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On Thursday, nearly a dozen of the world’s largest food companies issued a joint letter pledging that they intend to accelerate their efforts to reduce climate change – and that US and world leaders should do the same.

The letter is surprisingly direct about its support for climate action and includes signatures from the chief executive officers of Mars, Incorporated, General Mills, Unilever, Kellogg Company, Nestlé USA, New Belgium Brewing, Ben & Jerry’s, Clif Bar, Stonyfield Farm and Dannon USA.

General Mills breakfast cereals. (Photo Credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

General Mills breakfast cereals. (Photo Credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

“Climate change is bad for farmers and for agriculture,” states the letter, which appeared in the Thursday editions of the Washington Post and Financial Times. “Drought, flooding and hotter growing conditions threaten the world’s food supply and contribute to food insecurity.”

The food giants urge world leaders “to take action that could significantly change our world for the better” when they convene later this year for the Paris Climate Summit. The Summit, COP21, could decide how the international community will regulate greenhouse gas emissions for the next several years.

“By 2050, it is estimated that the world’s population will exceed nine billion, with two-thirds of all people living in urban areas,” the food execs warn. “This increase in population and urbanization will require more water, energy and food, all of which are compromised by warming temperatures.”

At the letter’s conclusion, the companies make three commitments “to each other, to…our political leaders, and to the world”:

  • To “re-energize” their respective efforts to make their supply chains more sustainable
  • To improve transparency in this work
  • To advocate for governments to set “clear, achievable, measurable and enforceable science-based targets for carbon emissions reductions.”

On Thursday, representatives from Mars, General Mills, Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s and Nestlé appeared on Capitol Hill to announce their united commitment to climate action. The event was hosted by long-time climate warrior Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representative Chris Gibson (R-NY), one of the few Congressional Republicans willing to talk about the validity of climate change. Ceres, a non-profit organization advocating sustainability in business, also helped to organize the event.

“We fundamentally rely on Mother Nature to provide the ingredients for the food we serve,” said Kim Nelson, senior vice president for external relations at General Mills, on Thursday. “If left unaddressed, [climate change] represents a variety of risks to our company and to our planet.”

President of Ceres, Mindy Lubber, said, “It’s extraordinary to see these iconic food companies, many of which are long-standing competitors, unite at this pivotal moment to urge our political leaders to act swiftly and decisively on global warming, which poses a direct threat to global food supplies.”

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