Is your favorite beer helping to fight climate change? The chances just improved as, in the lead-up to Saint Patrick's Day — one of America's favorite excuses to drink beer — New Belgium Brewery, Guinness, Smuttynose Brewing Company and Deschutes Brewery join dozens of brewers in announcing today they’ve signed the Climate Declaration, a business call to action that urges policymakers to seize the economic opportunity of tackling climate change. The 24 brewers range from local microbreweries to major international brands, and are headquartered all across America, from Oregon to Wyoming to Maine.
Launched in 2013 by Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization, and its business network, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), the Climate Declaration has more than 1,300 signatories nationwide, including iconic brands such as General Motors, Disney, Levi Strauss, Mars and eBay.
The brewing companies have signed their own Brewery Climate Declaration, a companion to the Climate Declaration, to call attention to the specific risks and opportunities, of climate change on the $246 billion industry.
“We believe that a strong economy and a stable climate go hand in hand,” said Jenn Vervier, Director of Strategy and Sustainability at New Belgium Brewery in Colorado. "We’ve committed to making our business sustainable, and it’s more important than ever that businesses engage with policymakers to support forward-thinking climate and energy policies.”
The beer industry faces multiple climate change impacts. Warmer temperatures and extreme weather events are harming the production of hops, a critical ingredient of beer that grows primarily in the Pacific Northwest. Rising demand and lower yields have driven the price of hops up by more than 250 percent in the past decade. Clean water resources, another key ingredient, are also becoming scarcer in the West as a result of climate-related droughts and reduced snow pack.
“These brewing companies see the financial upside of tackling climate change today, both for their own bottom lines and the overall economy," said Anne Kelly, Director of Policy and BICEP at Ceres. “Many are implementing creative solutions that lower their carbon footprints and cut costs, but they recognize that strong policies are essential for tackling climate change at the scale and pace that’s needed.”
Many of the brewers signing the Climate Declaration are taking their own steps to lower their carbon footprints:
- Measuring their greenhouse gas emissions. Deschutes Brewery was the first craft brewery to operate by the Global Reporting Initiative standards and make its carbon footprint publicly available. New Belgium Brewing has completed a full life-cycle analysis on its most popular Fat Tire beer.
- Using renewable energy. Allagash Brewery, Brewery Vivant, Deschutes Brewery, Odell Brewing, Redhook and Widmer Brothers use 100 percent renewable energy to generate electricity. New Belgium Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing and Kona Brewing Company have installed on-site solar arrays, with Kona Brewing sourcing 50 percent of its electricity needs from the array.
- Cutting energy use by recycling steam. Fremont Brewing and Odell Brewing capture steam from the brewing process and use it for heat, lowering their carbon footprints.
- Capturing methane. New Belgium Brewery and Smuttynose Brewery capture methane — a byproduct of their wastewater treatment process and potent greenhouse gas if released — and use it to generate electricity. The captured methane provides New Belgium with 15 percent of the brewery’s electricity needs.
- Cutting transportation emissions. Many breweries are cutting their transportation footprints by reducing packaging and choosing cans to lighten their loads. Guinness has partnered with the US EPA Smartways program that works with transportation carriers to reduce carbon emissions through better logistics.
- Seeking LEED Certification. Brewery Vivant became the first LEED-certified brewery in the United States in 2012, employing high-efficiency heating and cooling units. Smuttynose Brewing recently opened a LEED-gold certified pub in New Hampshire with LED on-demand lighting systems.
“Energy-efficient lighting is one of Widmer Brothers Brewing’s first steps towards minimizing our energy use,” said Julia Person, Sustainability Manager at Widmer Brothers Brewing. “Across the brewery, we have replaced all inefficient fluorescent lighting with efficient high-output lamps or LEDs, and installed occupancy and daylight sensors. Our electricity intensity dropped by 12 percent in 2014, to just 9.2 kWhs per barrel of beer produced.”
Brewers are also increasing their water efficiency, especially in areas struggling with drought and water scarcity. Odell Brewing uses a modified vacuum pump which triple-uses water and saves the Colorado brewery 25 million gallons of water annually.
The beer brewing industry is a major economic driver in America, with over 2,800 breweries producing $246.5 billion in economic output in 2012. Directly and indirectly, the beer industry creates over 2 million American jobs. Every brewery job creates 45 direct jobs in agriculture, transportation, distributing, business, packaging, machinery, and retail.
Full list of breweries signing the Climate Declaration:
- Aeronaut Brewing Company (MA)
- The Alchemist (VT)
- Allagash Brewing Company (ME)
- Aspen Brewing Company (CO)
- Brewery Vivant (MI)
- Buoy Beer Company (OR)
- Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen (WA)
- Deschutes Brewery (OR)
- Fort George Brewery and Public House (OR)
- Fremont Brewing Company (WA)
- Georgetown Brewing Co. (WA)
- Guinness (Ireland)
- Hopworks Urban Brewery (OR)
- Kona Brewing Company (HI)
- New Belgium Brewing (CO)
- Ninkasi Brewing Company (OR)
- Odell Brewing (CO)
- Redhook Brewery (WA)
- Rockford Brewing Company (MI)
- Smuttynose Brewing Company (NH)
- Snake River Brewering Co. (WY)
- Standing Stony Brewing Co. (OR)
- Wet Dog Café & Brewery (OR)
- Widmer Brothers Brewing (OR)