Climate Deal is Good News for our Future

Mars leaders react to historic COP21 achievement: “It’s just the beginning”
Dec 17, 2015 2:00 PM ET
Multimedia with summary

After two weeks of intense negotiations at COP21 in Paris, a meaningful global deal on climate change is finally in place. 

Mars celebrates this remarkable step towards securing a safe, sustainable planet for our children. 

But as a global business, what do we do now?

Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars’ Global Sustainability Director, said of the COP21 deal: "Back in October, we joined with the rest of the food and drink industry calling on global leaders to embrace the opportunity presented in Paris. We are hugely encouraged that they grasped the challenge, and reached an historic agreement. But this is just the beginning. Now really is the time for talk to become action.” 

Now, as we turn our attention to the future, we know we will continue to pursue our ambitious, science-based goal to eliminate fossil fuels from our operations by 2040. And we will carry on with our efforts to collaborate with the larger business community to live up to the clear, measurable and enforceable targets for carbon emissions reductions that came out of Paris. 

Here are our highlights from COP21, direct from the Mars team in Paris…

Science Science Science
Science was the hot topic on the ground in Paris. Mars’ Chief Sustainability Officer, Barry Parkin, addressed the Caring for Climate Business Forum, saying: "Our job is to make sure that our supply chains conform to the science-based targets often discussed - keeping temperature increases within the safe two degrees centigrade margin.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Rabinovitch told the sustainability website Business Green: "If we had just set our targets based on what's feasible, we probably would have said minus 20 per cent or 30 per cent, but because we started with the science, we knew that the right answer was much further than that. I think having that long term target can actually drive new strategies, new ideas and innovation - making what seemed unachievable, possible."

Supply Chain Focus
Nowhere is the threat of climate change felt more directly than on the food industry supply chain, where there are many barriers to efficiency and sustainability. This is why large corporations like Mars need to empower smallholder farmers and suppliers—as Barry said clearly at the Caring for Climate Business Forum: “We need to create a win-win situation for all. So to make sure we can meet our targets, we have raised the resilience of those smallholder farms. And that means dramatically improving their yields and their livelihoods. This is what we, and others in the food sector, have been working on for years."

Collaboration is Key
It was clear throughout COP21 that collaboration across industry, sectors and government is crucial. Change will only happen if we work together. 

Mars family member Marijke Mars represented us at COP21, focusing on how collaboration creates mutuality for people and planet. At a high-profile Business for Social Responsibility forum, Marijke talked about how Mars Food is forging partnerships to advance sustainable sourcing of rice: “We know we have set an ambitious goal for ourselves, but it’s one we think is vital to ensuring a long-term supply of premium quality rice, support for farming communities into the future, and a healthier environment. We encourage others to join us in this effort so that we can have an even greater impact.”

We were also proud to be called out by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Caring for Climate Summit as one of 150 companies that pledged support for the American Business Act on Climate, advanced by the White House. 

Our view
It was a privilege for the Sustainability team from Mars to be in Paris to witness the historic COP21 negotiations—and to see the extraordinary outpouring of passion from stakeholders representing governments, NGOs and industry on this critical issue of our time. There is more work to do, but we were encouraged by the collaborative and committed approach shown by world leaders. It was evidence that that if we all aim high and do our part, we really can make progress.