Fast food’s climate change apathy worries investors

Fast food brands managing 120,000 restaurants have yet to set aggressive enough targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, according to an analysis of their commitments.

Fairr, the global investor network, has been tracking the progress of six global foodservice companies for the past year. An update showed that Chipotle Mexican Grill, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Restaurant Brands International (RBI, which owns Burger King), Wendy’s Co. and Yum Brands! all remain exposed to the physical, regulatory and reputational risks that climate change poses to animal agriculture.

Indeed, none have set specific requirements on climate and water for their meat and dairy suppliers. Only McDonald’s and Yum have set, or publicly committed to set, science-based emission reduction targets. RBI meanwhile has said it will set a reduction target in the US and Canada. Only McDonald’s has said it will conduct a water risk assessment specifically for its meat and dairy suppliers.

Fairr, which represents investors managing $11.4 trillion (£8.83 trillion) of assets, said there had been some progress but change is not happening fast enough.

For example, many are engaging with roundtables on sustainable beef, poultry and soya but this isn’t translating into new supplier policies to drive down emissions. This worries investors.

“Feed for livestock alone uses around a third of annual global water withdrawals and is a major emitter of greenhouse gases,” said the coalition’s head of research and engagements Aarti Ramachandran.

“Failure by the global fast food sector to tackle the environmental issues in their supply chains puts the long-term financial sustainability of their businesses under threat. Investors are asking the industry to manage these risks [but] but the companies are failing to respond at the pace and with the detail required by investors.”

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