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General Mills Joins Ranks of Companies Advocating for Climate Policy

BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy) announced on Monday that General Mills has joined its coalition to advocate for innovative climate and clean energy policies.

BICEP, a project of Ceres, was launched in 2008 with a core group of five companies, including Starbucks, Nike, and Timberland. It has since expanded to 31 members including eBay Inc., Symantec, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, VF Corporation, Jones Lang LaSalle and now General Mills, and represent a broad spectrum of business sectors. BICEP members have been vocal proponents of renewable energy, greener transportation, and stricter pollution controls on power plants — the coalition’s Climate Declaration is now backed by over 100 leading companies.

“General Mills has long recognized the need to mitigate the risks that climate change presents to our planet, our business and each one of us. Science-based evidence underscores the urgency to take action and form effective and efficient climate and energy policies,” said Ken Powell, General Mills Chairman and CEO. “BICEP will be a key partner for us as we advocate for large scale progress on this issue.”

In 2005, General Mills pledged to reduce GHG emissions in its direct operations by 20 percent by 2015, and in 2009, it added a goal to reduce transportation fuel by 35 percent by 2015.

Given that nearly two-thirds of General Mills’ GHG emissions and 99 percent of water use throughout its value chain occur upstream of direct operations – primarily in agriculture — General Mills has focused on advancing sustainable agriculture. To this end, General Mills has committed to sustainably source 100 percent of its 10 priority ingredients by 2020. These ingredients represent 50 percent of its total raw material purchases.

General Mills is one of the “Big 10” food and beverage companies that admit they are already beginning to feel the effects of climate change on their bottom lines — in March, Powell said the company lost 62 days of production in the first fiscal quarter of 2014 alone because of extreme weather conditions that are only growing worse. In May, Oxfam released a report calling out the Big 10 — which together emit 263.7 million tons of GHGs per year (more than Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined) — for not doing more to reduce the emissions resulting from their agricultural supply chains. Oxfam says the Big 10 should be capable of cutting their combined emissions by a further 80 million tons by 2020.

By joining BICEP, General Mills appears to be showing that it intends to make good on its commitment to work with businesses and policymakers to enact meaningful energy and climate policies.

“General Mills is showing increasing leadership on climate change and we are proud to welcome the company as our newest member of BICEP,” said Ceres president Mindy Lubber. “With General Mills’ global commitment to sustainable sourcing and the work it is doing to reduce GHG emissions in its direct operations and in agriculture, the company brings a lot to the table. We are certain General Mills will be an effective advocate for strong climate and energy policies.”

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