Climate

New Investment By Largest Steel Producer in U.S. Proves Clean Energy Can Power Heavy Industry

Nucor aiming to sign wind energy agreement in Missouri

-

An E&E News story published today revealed that Nucor Steel, the number one steel producer in the US and number 11 globally, has filed a power purchase agreement for wind energy with Evergy Missouri (formally KCPL).

In response to this news, Margaret Hansbrough, a Missouri native and Campaign Director at Mighty Earth, released the following statement:

"Last year, Mighty Earth called upon Nucor and the entire steel industry to commit to carbon neutrality and clean energy, and for Nucor specifically to begin switching to clean electricity. Despite their initial claims that renewable energy could not handle the power generation needs of their steel mills, it took Nucor only a few months after we launched our public campaign to start filing papers for this wind agreement and begin transitioning to clean energy for a new mill in Sedalia, Missouri.

"We have said that switching to clean electricity is good for business, good for the climate, and good for clean energy jobs. Now we know that to be true. This approach builds on the natural competitive advantage electricity-produced steel has in the U.S. broadly and in states with cheap renewables in particular. Nucor's new mill in Sedalia is a compelling proof of concept. Nucor cuts costs and reduces the embodied carbon in its steel; the state of Missouri leverages clean, cheap electricity to bring new jobs to the state. It’s a win-win move, and we hope the company will repeat this practice in all the states where they are expanding."

 

James Owen, Executive Director of Renew Missouri, Missouri’s leading renewable energy advocacy organization, also provided a reaction to this news:

"The work between Evergy and Nucor shows that clean energy is a necessary economic development tool if Missouri is serious about jobs and attracting business. The Show-Me State benefits economically through high-paying construction and technician jobs. Cheap clean energy will be critical to attracting and retaining industrial jobs like steel production. Not only that, the steel industry and companies like Nucor benefit enormously from the expansion of electricity transmission infrastructure with projects like the Grain Belt Express as well as expanded generation on wind farms built with USA produced steel. If Missouri really wanted to walk the walk on job creation, we could change our laws that made Evergy and Nucor's contract a normal part of business. This would be good for communities and utility customers all over Missouri."

 

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global campaign organization that works to protect the environment. We focus on big issues: conserving threatened landscapes like tropical rainforests, protecting oceans, and solving climate change. In the fall of 2018, Mighty Earth launched a global campaign calling on Nucor and other global steel leaders to commit to clean energy and carbon neutrality. The campaign released two groundbreaking reports: Cold Steel, Hot Climate and Construction Destruction. Both reports focused on advances the steel and construction industries must undertake right away to solve the climate crisis and specifically outlined ways for Nucor to lead the market in low carbon steel making by committing to clean electricity. For full reports and statements visit: www.mightyearth.org/steel.

 

About Renew Missouri

Renew Missouri was founded in 2006 to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency in the state of Missouri. In that time, Renew Missouri has advanced legislation, passed statewide ballot initiatives, crafted local ordinances, and represented these interests before state regulators on hundreds of cases. For more information, visit renewmo.org.


NYC Activists call on Cargill to Stop the Amazon Fires & Embrace Regenerative Agriculture

“Hey Cargill, you can’t hide--we charge you with ecocide.” 

Converging for an early morning action, over 40 New Yorkers chanted, sang, and held handmade signs as Cargill Senior Vice President Ruth Kimmelshue arrived at the Intercontinental Monday morning for an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

The action was sponsored by 30 organizations, including SumOfUs, Friends of the Earth, Amazon Watch, Defend Democracy in Brazil, and a variety of Sunrise Movement chapters.

The Wall Street Journal covered the demonstration in an article this week, noting:

Environmental groups also staged protests, targeting Cargill Inc. The supplier of agricultural commodities missed a deforestation target earlier this year.

“We engage with all those voices to create more sustainable supply chains,” said Ruth Kimmelshue, Cargill’s sustainability chief.

She said Cargill is also feeling pressure from consumer-food companies, which have heightened expectations around environmental practices and the impact of agriculture. “Their brands are on the lines,” she said.

Kimmelshue is right. Consumer-facing brands can continue sourcing from Cargill, or they can maintain a reputation as environmental leaders, but they can’t do both.

Mighty Earth staff and volunteers will next converge on the Consumer Goods Forum in Berlin later this month to mobilize consumer-facing companies and call on them to take swift action to eliminate deforestation-driving commodities from companies like Cargill from their supply chains.

 

Outside of Ruth Kimmelshue’s interview Todd Fernandez, a leader of 350NYC, rallied the crowd with an inspiring speech. “We cannot wait for Congress to act. We have to pressure these corporations” Fernandez said. “Everyone is on notice. There is no escaping the responsibility.”

The action caps off an eventful two-month period, which included a mass die-in at the Cargill Gallery of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, a vigil against deforestation at the Consumer Goods Forum, and an action at Cargill’s Women in Ag conference.


Global Architecture Community Sets Ambitious New Target: Zero Emissions by 2040

In response to Architecture 2030’s ambitious new carbon positive targets that were previewed at the Carbon Positive Summit in Chicago and publicly announced this week, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough, who attended the summit and was present for the rollout of the targets, released the following statement:

“This is a historic moment in the fight against climate change. It is inspiring to see the global architecture community coming together to embrace a vision of zero emissions by 2040. But what Architecture 2030 has laid out is more than a vision, it’s also a much-needed framework that outlines the steps we must take to decarbonize some of the hardest to abate materials on the planet: steel, concrete, and aluminum.

“Construction material companies need to be looking at the targets outlined by Architecture 2030, including the near-term embodied carbon targets of 50 percent reduction by 2025 and 65 percent reduction by 2030. These companies – like Arcelor Mittal, Nucor, US Steel, Tata Steel, POSCO, and many others– must begin calibrating their own decarbonization plans accordingly or risk being left behind.

“For the steel industry, this is a critical demand signal from key customers. About half of all steel ends up in the built environment, and customers embracing these new targets will be looking for lowest carbon steel possible. The market for decarbonization is booming, and every steel company in the world should be looking at these targets and figuring out how they will meet the coming demand.

“These new targets and the companies that are rushing to embrace them are an encouraging sign and proof that the private sector can play a significant role in addressing climate change -- even in the absence of government action.”


To Save the Climate, Grocery Stores Must Stop Stocking Deforestation

To Save the Climate, Grocery Stores Must Stop Stocking Deforestation

In latest corporate accountability action, letters to Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart demand companies fulfill climate pledges and protect forests

NEW YORK – As activists gather in New York for Climate Week, they are increasingly focusing their attention on corporate behemoths driving deforestation and ecological destruction around the globe. Today, in the latest action seeking to hold companies accountable for the pledges they’ve made in the past, Mighty Earth has released letters calling on Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart to take immediate action to end their links to deforestation in the Amazon and throughout South America.

The burning of the Amazon and the darkening of skies have captured the world’s conscience. But while much of the blame for the fires has rightly fallen on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for directly encouraging the burning of forests and the seizure of Indigenous Peoples’ lands, the financial incentive for the destruction comes from large-scale international meat and soy animal feed companies like Cargill, Bunge, and JBS.

Costco, Ahold Delhaize, Walmart, and other global brands that buy from these suppliers and sell to the public are creating the international markets and providing the finances for the destruction.

Ten years ago, Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) members made a commitment to end deforestation in their supply chains by 2020, with an emphasis on high risk commodities such as soy, cattle, palm oil, and pulp and paper. Five years later, at the 2014 Climate Summit in New York, 60 additional companies joined in this pledge as a part of the landmark New York Declaration on Forests.

But progress toward these lofty goals has been lacking. According to Forest 500’s 2018 Annual Report, “As the 2020 deadline approaches, not one of the Forest 500 companies and financial institutions assessed in 2018 is on track to eliminate commodity-driven deforestation from their supply chains and portfolios by next year. Yet nearly half have made commitments to do so by 2020 or earlier […] Even companies with ambitious commitments are not putting these into practice. Of the 228 companies assessed in 2017 and 2018, nearly 70% scored lower this year than last year, due to the new indicators on implementation. This reflects an implementation gap – companies are not executing their commitments.”

“Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart have called for change and asked for supply chain reforms,” said Mat Jacobson, Senior Director for Forests at Mighty Earth. “But these polite requests have been ignored. Money talks, and the grocery stores’ calls for change aren’t making a difference because they continue to buy from the suppliers driving deforestation. Cargill, Bunge, and JBS shrug off the bad press and keep cashing checks. It’s time for that to end. We want these grocery stores to stop doing business with the companies driving deforestation in the Amazon.”

The letters, delivered late last week, call on Costco, Ahold Delhaize, and Walmart to:

  • Immediately cease purchases and financing of any company responsible for destruction of forests and other native ecosystems or the theft of Indigenous and local community lands, and adopt an immediate supplier suspension policy for future violations.
  • Require suppliers to establish industry-wide mechanisms to monitor and stop destruction of native ecosystems across South America.
  • Establish and implement a zero-tolerance policy for attacks on environmental and human rights defenders and civil society advocates.
  • Move rapidly towards only buying from countries that are increasing their natural forest cover and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including Free Prior and Informed Consent.
  • Work with civil society to actively and publicly support government efforts to protect native ecosystems and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities through stronger regulatory frameworks and enforcement.
  • Require suppliers to implement regenerative agro-ecological farming practices that verifiably improve soil health, water quality, and biodiversity.
  • Set a public, science-based target to rapidly shift a significant portion of protein sales towards plant-based options.

Read the full letters here.

These new letters are just the latest in a series of actions seeking to hold corporations accountable for their climate action pledges. Monday, Mighty Earth joined dozens of NGOs in asking members of the Consumer Goods Forum “to take bold and urgent action to halt deforestation, species loss, and human rights abuses within supply chains.” Activists from several organizations gathered outside a meeting of the Consumer Goods Forum on Monday night to hold a “vigil for the Amazon” and demand that member companies immediately cut all ties to deforestation.

The letters and vigil plainly caught the attention of CGF, as they invited Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Etelle Higonnet into the meeting to present Mighty Earth’s concerns to many of the top executives as well as the presidents of the Tropical Forest Alliance and CGF.

A follow-up protest will be held on October 7, as activists will converge on the InterContinental New York Barclay – where Cargill’s Senior Vice President is speaking – to call for rapid changes.

“We don’t have the luxury of trusting corporate pledges anymore,” said Jacobson. “We applauded when these companies pledged to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains by 2020, and that promise is now literally going up in smoke. It’s time for real, concrete action. Not one year from now, not 10 years from now. Right now.”

See also:


World Green Building Council Sounds the Alarm on Embodied Carbon

Today, the World Green Building Council released its new report, Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront. In response, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough released the following statement:

"Today's report from the World Green Building Council is a seismic shift toward sustainable construction. WGBC has done the critical work of convening industry stakeholders, forging consensus, and pushing forward a bold collective vision for how to reduce the embodied carbon in construction materials like steel and cement.

"When we released our Construction Destruction report last year at USGBC's Greenbuild conference, our aim was to shake up the construction industry into acting as fast as possible. Today is a welcome sign of forward momentum from the global construction industry's leading climate voice.

"The impressive list of industry endorsements WGBC has garnered suggests this is a watershed moment. Each of these companies must now develop a public plan and commitment for how they will work to achieve the net zero building future in the near, mid, and long term. It is estimated that, without urgent action immediately, embodied carbon will be responsible for at least half, if not more, of total new construction emissions between now and 2050. There is no time to lose."


Global Day of Action for the Amazon

Global Day of Action for the Amazon

On September 5, activists across the world joined the Global Day of Action for the Amazon to hold governments and companies that stand to profit from the fires in the Amazon accountable for their role in this environmental destruction.

Minneapolis, Minnesota


In Minneapolis, Mighty Earth and 80+ activists rallied at the Minneapolis Institute of Art–home to the Cargill Gallery–to call out Cargill for its role in lighting up the Amazon and polluting water sources. Holding banners such as “Cargill: there’s no art on a dead planet” and “Cargill: helping the world burn” activists from the Twin Cities gathered outside the museum’s main doors.

Use left and right arrows to view all navigate

Midway through the protest, while chanting “The Amazon’s in flames, we’re out in force and naming names protestors” protestors abandoned their spot on the front sidewalk and swarmed into the main entrance of the museum, where they proceeded to stage a dramatic die-in.

The protest was endorsed by over a dozen local, national, and international organizations, including the Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America chapter, Environment Minnesota, and Rainforest Action Network, as well as by Bill McKibben. Outlets such as Fox 9 and City Pages covered the event.

Cargill went into damage control mode and rapidly issued a comment in an attempt to defend the company’s reputation. In response, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

“Cargill gives up the game immediately by declaring their opposition is to ‘illegal deforestation.’ What that actually means is that they are still going to take full advantage of lax regulations and enforcement in Bolsonaro-era Brazil. A commitment to oppose illegal deforestation is nothing more than a pledge to obey the law – this is the bare minimum, not something to celebrate.

“The fires in the Amazon are a byproduct of the rollback of safeguards for the environment and Indigenous peoples in both Bolivia and Brazil. These policies have been implemented at the behest of the region’s industrial agriculture sector, of which Cargill is a top player. We have applauded Cargill for joining the Amazon Moratorium in the past, but since that time they have fallen dramatically behind the industry by refusing to go beyond that single safeguard.

“The Moratorium protects only the Brazilian Amazon, but enables Cargill to continue buying from deforesters in the Cerrado or the Bolivian Amazon, where more than 2.5 million acres have burned, largely to clear land for new cattle and soy animal feed plantations, in just a few weeks. By failing to address these issues and others, Cargill has contributed to the atmosphere of lawlessness in Brazil and beyond that has led to these fires.

“These fires are also exposing a loophole in the existing Soy Moratorium. While broadly effective, it does permit soy producers to engage in extensive deforestation for cattle and still sell their soy to Cargill. The Amazon crisis shows the urgent need to close this loophole so that deforestation can be stopped, whatever crop is driving it.

“In addition, the forest fires in Brazil and Bolivia are a result of land being burned to clear it for cattle. Ranchers will then move cattle from existing land to the newly deforested land, and plant soy to sell to Cargill. As long as Cargill keeps providing this incentive, the burning will continue.”

Washington D.C.


Mighty Earth also co-organized sister actions in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. In D.C., protestors marched from the White House to the building that houses both the Brazilian consulate and the local Cargill office. Campaign director Lucia von Reusner was featured as a speaker at the D.C. protest, where she spoke about the role of large agribusinesses in driving and incentivizing the fires. “It is no surprise that Cargill is headquartered in the same building as the Brazilian consulate, given that our satellite investigations of the most recent fires raging across Brazil and Bolivia have found Cargill and mega beef supplier JBS consistently at the front lines of this deforestation” von Reusner said, addressing the large crowd gathered on the sidewalk.

Use left and right arrows to navigate


The Companies Behind the Burning of the Amazon

The burning of the Amazon and the darkening of skies from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, have captured the world’s conscience. Much of the blame for the fires has rightly fallen on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for directly encouraging the burning of forests and the seizure of Indigenous Peoples’ lands.

But the incentive for the destruction comes from large-scale international meat and soy animal feed companies like JBS and Cargill, and the global brands like Stop & Shop, Costco, McDonald’s, Walmart/Asda, and Sysco that buy from them and sell to the public. It is these companies that are creating the international demand that finances the fires and deforestation.

New maps and analysis from Mighty Earth, based on data from NASA, CONAB, and Imazon and released here for the first time, show which companies are most closely linked to the burning.

Read the full report, The Companies Behind the Burning of the Amazon in English, Spanish, Italian or French.

Take Action: Tell the companies responsible to stop financing this reckless environmental destruction.


Mighty Earth and NGO's urge the EU to end complicity in the Amazon Fires

Mighty Earth joined today a host of other civil society organizations, pleading the EU to step up to the plate and address its own complicity in current Amazon fires & deforestation crisis. We demanded that the European Commission work on EU regulation to end deforestation once and for all, in order to protect the lungs of the planet.

Our open letter to European heads of state speaks truth to power, affirms that the current destructive fires in Latin America are not natural, are destroying ecosystems and hurting indigenous peoples, that they are triggered largely by soy and beef industries, and that they are made possible by the new Brazilian government’s flawed policies. But most importantly, this communication to the top powers in Europe points out that Europe also bears key responsibility for the fires. European consumption and finance is intimately linked with the current deforestation and fire crisis in Brazil, Bolivia, and neighboring countries.

We are calling on the EU to suspend ratification of the Free Trade Agreement as is and to prepare legislation which will ensure companies and the finance sector do due diligence to guarantee that products placed on the EU market and investments have not led to recent forest degradation or deforestation or caused human rights abuses.

 Read the full letter here.

 


Mighty Earth responds to the Fires in the Amazon

As the Amazon continues to burn at a record rate, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

“People around the world are battling despair and a sense of helplessness, wondering what can be done to address this ongoing disaster. The answer is to hold people accountable and immediately remove the market incentives that promote this reckless environmental destruction.

“The people who started many of these fires did so in support of Bolsonaro’s policies to develop the Amazon, but they also clear forests because they know that companies will still buy their ill-gotten goods. Major food companies like Stop & Shop and McDonald’s are willing to look the other way while the Amazon burns.

“No more. It’s time for companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Ahold Delhaize – which owns Stop & Shop as well as Hannaford, Food Lion, Pea Pod and Giant supermarkets – to halt contracts with companies that have major ties to Brazilian agribusiness, like Cargill and JBS, until the situation is remedied.”

*Photo credit: Fire burns in Brazilian forest (2017, Jim Wickens/Ecostorm).Brazil’s space agency says a record number of fires like these are burning


Cold Steel, Hot Climate

New Report: Steel Industry Vulnerable, Must Prepare for Decarbonization

Top 20 companies are not on pace to hit critical emissions reductions needed for 1.5-degree threshold

CDP, formerly known as Carbon Disclosure Project, published a new report assessing 20 of the largest and high-impact publicly listed steel companies on their readiness for a low-carbon transition. The report, entitled “Melting Point,” identified SSAB, ArcelorMittal, Hyundai Steel, and Tata Steel as the companies best positioned to succeed as the industry transitions to low carbonization; the least prepared companies were Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel, U.S. Steel, and Beijing Shougang. U.S. Steel, along with Nucor, declined to respond to CDP’s 2018 climate change questionnaire.

In response to the report, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough released the following statement:

“This report is a clear signal to the steel industry and global investors that the time to act on the climate crisis is now. The transition to a low-carbon economy is coming, and implications for the entire construction sector are massive. In the next 18 months, each of the companies named in this report must step up and put forward public plans for deep decarbonization.

“This report also exposes the vulnerability of customers. Top steel consumers like Skanska, the global green construction leader, source steel directly from companies identified by CDP. General Motors and its joint ventures continue to buy from many of the companies named in the report for not doing enough to decarbonize.

“Leaders and investors in the auto and construction industries need to step up in an unprecedented way to begin the hard but critical work of decarbonizing their steel supply chains.”

The IPCC reported that in order to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, industrial emissions must be cut in half in the next ten years. In 2018, Mighty Earth launched a global campaign focused on cleaning up the steel industry, which accounts for an estimated 8 percent of global emissions, and is pushing major producers and their customers to commit to carbon neutrality. Mighty Earth published a report in October 2018 calling for Nucor to adopt new practices and for its customers to hold it accountable to climate action.

Earlier this year, steel producer ArcelorMittal pledged carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050 and consumer Skanska UK pledged total carbon neutrality for its supply chain by 2045.

CDP and Mighty Earth are both members of ResponsibleSteel, a coalition which will set standards and certification plans for the steel industry by 2020. To access the CDP report, please visit https://bit.ly/2Yf031X.


Mighty Earth responds to deforestation spike in the Amazon

New government data shows that 1,345 sq km of the Brazilian Amazon have been cleared in the month of July alone, an area greater than the city of Los Angeles. In response to this announcement, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

“It’s not just President Bolsonaro who is to blame for this massive increase in Brazilian deforestation, it’s also the international companies like Cargill and JBS that are making it possible. These companies are the ones financing the deforestation and exporting meat and animal feed around the world. On a day when heat records are being shattered across Europe, it’s time for Cargill and other companies to stop buying from deforesters. We’re concerned that the combination of Bolsonaro’s weakening of environmental enforcement and the new Europe-Mercosur trade deal will only provide more opportunities for outlaw companies like Cargill to recklessly finance deforestation. Consumers should tell customers of deforestation – companies like Stop & Shop, Giant, and McDonald’s – to call on their suppliers to end their complicity in Brazil’s massive deforestation.”


Judge Cargill on Implementation, Not Commitments

Agribusiness giant Cargill recently made a pledge regarding greenhouse gas emissions from its beef operations in North America. In response to this latest announcement, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement:

"Once again, Cargill’s executives and PR teams have gotten the headlines they wanted after a splashy announcement. But as we documented in our recent report, Cargill: The Worst Company in the World, Cargill’s big announcements are too often just a prelude to failure and disappointment.

"In this case, Cargill’s commitment seems bogus on its face. Rather than committing to actually cutting its climate impact, Cargill is just committing to reducing the 'intensity' of its emissions. In contrast, Smithfield Pork has committed to reduce absolute emissions by 25 percent by 2025, a real goal that they’re well on their way to achieving. Meanwhile, Cargill continues to drive large-scale destruction of native habitat and water and climate pollution throughout its meat supply chain.

"Time and time again, Cargill has proven to be either unwilling or too incompetent to make the modest improvements needed to put their business on a sustainable trajectory, and the promised changes never arrive.

"In 2014, Cargill pledged to great fanfare to end deforestation from the production of key agricultural commodities by 2020. Now that 2020 is just around the corner, they have admitted that goal will not be met and pledged only half measures in response. This is simply how they operate.

"At this point, it’s irresponsible to take Cargill at their word. Cargill should be judged on implementation, not commitments. In the face of our planet’s urgent climate crisis, more empty promises are simply not enough."


Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

Cargill Named "Worst Company in the World"

New report documents US-based agribusiness giant’s “ineptitude and incoherence at a grand scale.”

This press release is available in French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and German.

July 11, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth announced today that it had named Minnesota-based Cargill as the “Worst Company in the World” due to its unscrupulous business practices, environmental destruction, and repeated insistence on standing in the way of global progress on sustainability. Mighty Earth’s new report, “Cargill: The Worst Company in the World,” documents decades of bad acts by the company and highlights the need for urgent action. The report is available in Spanish, Dutch, French, Portuguese and German.

“In my 40-year long career in Congress, I took on a range of companies that engaged in abusive practices,” former congressman and Mighty Earth Chairman Henry Waxman writes in the report. “I have seen firsthand the harmful impact of businesses that do not bring their ethics with them to work. But Cargill stands out.”

“As one of the largest companies in the world, Cargill has a responsibility to address its outsized impact,” Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz said. “Mighty Earth runs campaigns around the globe to advocate for sustainable business practices, and Cargill kept showing up when our investigations identified bad actors. Whether we were working on palm oil in Southeast Asia, cocoa farming in West Africa, or soy cultivation in South America, Cargill was always there, ready to thwart progress and impede joint conservation efforts. Given their ubiquity and obstinance, we decided it was time to take a closer look at their checkered past.”

For months, Mighty Earth has engaged in discussions with Cargill, including at the CEO level, to address the report’s findings and seek long-term solutions. Mighty Earth has served as a key convener for other sectors – including rubber, chocolate, and palm oil – as those companies sought to improve their environmental standards and impacts. However, Cargill has refused, time and time again, to substantively address the problems Mighty Earth identified. Instead, Cargill continues to prioritize the deforesters in its supply chains over the climate or their customers’ sustainability demands.

“In press releases and public statements, the agribusiness giant Cargill presents itself as frustrated with deforestation, as though it were some externality they have no control over, like bad weather,” Hurowitz said. “But deforestation isn’t something that’s happening to Cargill, it’s something that Cargill is doing.”

Mighty Earth’s new report identifies Ahold Delhaize – an international supermarket giant that owns Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford, and many other brands – as a key customer of Cargill that could take immediate action. Ahold Delhaize, despite its own corporate sustainability pledges, recently broke ground on a new meat packaging facility in Rhode Island as a joint venture with Cargill.

“It’s important for Ahold Delhaize and other Cargill customers to set new sourcing standards that eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. They have the power to force Cargill’s hand, but continued inaction makes them complicit in Cargill’s malfeasance,” said Mighty Earth Senior Director for Forests Mat Jacobson. “Cargill has only gotten away with its bad behavior for so long because it is not a consumer-facing brand. But if folks knew the food they get at McDonald’s, Stop & Shop, or Target was destroying the rainforests or had been produced with child slavery, they’d be shocked.”

The release of Mighty Earth’s groundbreaking report kicks-off a multimillion-dollar, multi-year campaign targeting Cargill and its customers that will urge the agribusiness giant to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from its supply chain. To launch the campaign, local Mighty Earth activists and allies including Minnesota Clean Water Action honored Cargill for its dubious distinction with a rally outside Cargill headquarters in Minnesota at which it awarded the company a “thumbs down” placard.

About the Report

Major findings:

  • Cargill is poised to further wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems in Brazil, taking advantage of President Bolsonaro’s rollback of vital environmental protections. In 2014, Cargill pledged to end deforestation for all commodities in its supply chain by 2020. With just one year left, Cargill has continued to incentivize deforestation, remained one of the worst actors on the world stage, and now stands poised to embrace the dawning of a Bolsonaro-era free-for-all in Brazil’s forests.
  • In November 2017, Cargill was fined $10 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for years of deliberately misreporting its trade values – by up to 90 percent – in order to defraud both the government and its trading partners. In October 2018, David Dines, the Cargill executive responsible for these violations, was promoted to Chief Financial Officer.
  • Indigenous peoples who depend on forests have had their land encroached upon by Cargill-linked soy plantations in Brazil. They have been forced off of their traditional lands and have experienced sharp increases in cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, and other illnesses linked to pesticides and herbicides used to grow soy – often sprayed by planes directly overhead.
  • Cargill is one of the top ten polluters in the US food industry for more than a dozen pollutants, including formaldehyde, lead, asbestos, hydrogen cyanide, and mercury.

Photo and video assets relating to the report and Cargill’s operations across different commodities are available for media.

Contact: Alex Armstrong, [email protected]


Mighty Earth to Help Set Environmental, Climate Standards for Steel

Environmental organization joins ResponsibleSteel, which will set standards and certification plans for industry by 2020

LONDON – Today, Mighty Earth officially became a member of ResponsibleSteel, a global, multi-stakeholder, not-for-profit standard and certification initiative for the responsible sourcing and production of steel.

Mighty Earth joins ResponsibleSteel to help address the outsized climate impact of steel and, ultimately, the entire heavy industrial sector. Mighty Earth is the first U.S.-based organization to join the initiative.

“Mighty Earth is excited to join this unprecedented and urgent effort to reduce climate pollution from the world's leading source of industrial emissions: steel,” said Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz. “NGOs and industry must work together to cut industrial carbon emissions in half by 2030, and our hope is that ResponsibleSteel will be the vehicle for the steel industry to do its part to solve the climate crisis.”

Steel is the leading source of industrial emissions, accounting for 8 percent of all global emissions. It’s representative of the heavy industrial sector, long perceived as the most difficult to abate sector. All told, industrial sectors account for 38 percent of global energy use, a quarter of global emissions, and 30 percent of all U.S. carbon emissions. The scale of energy use means that mitigating the climate impact of industry is as important as addressing deforestation or transportation.

Mighty Earth is one of the only NGOs focused on the heavy industrial sector and steel, but progress has been made. A few weeks ago, Skanska UK committed to carbon neutrality for the full scope of its supply chain – exactly what Mighty Earth had asked for at the outset of the campaign. More recently, ArcelorMittal, the largest steel company in the world, committed to carbon neutrality in Europe and released the steel industry’s first-ever climate action plan. And just this month, the American Institute of Architects overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for “urgent and sustained climate action.”

ResponsibleSteel’s certification mechanism will cover the production of steel as well as the sourcing of raw materials. The ResponsibleSteel standard, currently under development, addresses: Business Integrity; Stakeholder Communication and Engagement; Responsible Sourcing; Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Emissions, Effluent, Waste; Water Stewardship; Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; Human Rights; Local Communities; Labour Rights; Occupational Health and Safety.

Other members of the organization include steel businesses like ArcelorMittal, BlueScope Steel, voestalpine, Aperam, BMW, Daimler and HSBC, as well as civil society organizations IndustriALL, IUCN, Fauna and Flora International, CDP and the We Mean Business Coalition.

For more on Mighty Earth’s campaign to decarbonize heavy industry, please visit www.mightyearth.org/steel

Additional Resources:


Mighty Earth Calls on Private Sector to Address Devastating Climate Impacts

Scientists have detected atmospheric levels of CO2 at 415.26 parts per million (ppm), the highest levels ever recorded. In response to these findings, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement: 

“We now have evidence that we are living in a warmer climate than any in human history. The climate isn’t hot because of some general, amorphous forces, but because of specific decisions by specific companies. It’s because companies like McDonald’s still buy meat linked to the companies destroying Brazil’s forests, because BMW cheats pollution controls, because the Trump administration does polluters’ bidding, and because too many Democrats are still negotiating with themselves over a middle-ground solution to an existential crisis.

“This crisis isn’t inevitable, and can be solved – even in this era of government ignoring the problem or making it worse. Food companies can meet their commitments to end deforestation for products like palm oil and chocolate if they just rigorously enforce their existing commitments. Car companies can stop lobbying for weaker fuel efficiency requirements and double down on the race to electrify. And heavy industry, like steel and cement, can build on their progress to decarbonize.

“Just because government isn’t doing its job doesn’t mean the job doesn’t have to be done.”


In Rare Instance, Environmentalists Agree with Scott Pruitt’s EPA: Lower Biodiesel Mandates

Earlier this month, Scott Pruitt’s EPA issued an unusual request: it asked for public input on the idea of reducing mandated biodiesel levels.

While this action was almost certainly spurred by oil companies, interested in reducing their obligation to purchase biodiesel under the Renewable Fuel Standard, it led to a rare moment of agreement between Pruitt and his oil company backers and the community of environmental, conservation and anti-hunger groups working this issue. Reducing biodiesel production would be a good thing.

Biodiesel: Not at All “Green”

The biodiesel industry has successfully marketed their product as clean-burning and climate-friendly, but new research paints the fuel as anything but green. The overwhelming majority of biodiesel consumed in the United States comes not from waste or recycled oil, but from virgin vegetable oils, primarily soy. These oils are closely linked in the global market to expanding vegetable oil production in Latin America and Southeast Asia, two regions suffering massive deforestation for the production of vegetable oil crops.

In short, any increase in biodiesel production means that more land has to come under cultivation, which means that somewhere in the world, a forest or prairie will be razed. And when all those land impacts are added up, biodiesel looks even worse for the climate than dirty old oil.

It’s also no accident that the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest ever this year, or that Lake Erie is perennially choked by algal blooms. In the US, where corn ethanol production is even bigger that soy biodiesel, over 7 million acres in the U.S. were converted to agricultural production for biofuels since 2007. That’s an area the size of Delaware.

What was once prairie, grassland and forest, providing natural habitat and clean drinking water, is now industrial scale farms. Pesticide and fertilizers run-off pollutes waterways, locally and downstream.

Why Reduce Biodiesel Mandates Now?

The EPA’s request for comments comes at an interesting time. The Commerce Department recently recommended that the tariffs be imposed on biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia. The tax credit for biodiesel is also in limbo, since it expired at the end of 2016 and has not yet been renewed.

Both these developments are good – let’s not import biodiesel from countries undergoing massive deforestation for the crops used to make the biodiesel, let’s not use taxpayer money to subsidize polluting fuels – but the story doesn’t end there.

There is still the critical question of what the EPA does with biodiesel mandate levels. If current levels are maintained, but Argentina and Indonesia imports decline, that leaves a market opening for biodiesel production to ramp up somewhere else. Which we don’t want. Even domestic biodiesel production is linked to expanding markets for palm oil, a crop that has enormous carbon emissions.

Where Conservationists and Oil Companies Agree

That’s why Mighty Earth joined a coalition of progressive groups last week, in addition to tens of thousands of citizens, and asked Administrator Pruitt last week to reduce the federal biodiesel mandate. We’re proud to partner on this issue with the Clean Air Task Force, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network and Action Aid USA, and others.

And if this puts us in agreement with Administrator Pruitt and the oil companies, albeit for very different reasons, so be it. We’ll keep fighting them to maintain strong fuel economy standards and move the vehicle fleet toward electrification. But on this one topic we agree – biodiesel mandates need to go.

Coda: Trump Walks Back Pruitt Proposal

The EPA biodiesel proposal drew fierce backlash from the Midwestern delegation and the corn and soy lobbying groups, intent on preserving this enormous agricultural subsidy.

And the administration relented. Bloomberg News reported that President Trump personally intervened, directing Administrator Pruitt to reverse course on potential biodiesel reductions.

The agricultural lobby may have won this round, but it’s more and more clear that that a wide variety of stakeholders want biofuel policy reform. From an environmental and conservation perspective, reducing the use of vegetable oil-based biodiesel and corn ethanol would be a major step in the right direction.


Environmental group cries “fowl” over biodiesel event

Biodiesel not a “feel-good, hippie fuel”

 

Washington, DC-- The National Biodiesel Board offered Congressional members and staff free French fries today, but the group’s touting of used cooking oil misrepresents the real-world reality of biodiesel production.  Environmentalists and their animal ‘friends’ attended the event to share information about the strong links between biodiesel and deforestation.

 

“Biodiesel is not a feel-good, hippie fuel. Rather than Willie Nelson’s tour bus, the more accurate representation of biodiesel is a tropical rainforest which has just been bulldozed and cleared for an industrial-scale soy or palm plantation,” said Rose Garr of Mighty Earth.

 

The large majority of biodiesel is produced from virgin vegetable oils, not used cooking oil. And even recycled and “waste” oils and fats may not have the climate benefits long assumed.  Recent research show as that these oils and fats can be used in animal feed and consumer care products, and diverting them to fuel production drives demand for replacements and expands the global vegetable oil market. The cheapest replacement is often palm oil, which is a major driver of deforestation in Southeast Asia.

 

“We’re offering to buy that used fryer oil, take it off the Biodiesel Board’s hands, and give it to a Maryland farmer to use as feed. Continuing to ramp up biodiesel production and grow demand for vegetable oils around the globe will contribute to deforestation,” Garr added.

 

In 2017, significant quantities of biodiesel imports were imported from Argentina and Indonesia, two countries experiencing high levels of deforestation for agricultural production.

 

***


Henry Waxman, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and Others Urge EPA and Congress to Reduce Biofuel Mandates

To download the full recording of the tele-conference, click here.

Washington, DC—A growing coalition of environmental and anti-hunger groups, including former Congressman Henry Waxman, now chairman of Mighty Earth, urged the EPA today to reconsider and reduce mandates for conventional, food-based biofuels. Over 40,000 individuals also commented to EPA in support of reducing volume levels.

These comments come as the environmental benefits of biofuels are facing intense scrutiny. In 2011 and 2016, the National Research Council and the Government Accountability Office, respectively, concluded that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is unlikely or failing to meet its climate mitigation goals. Recent research has also found that 7 million acres of native habitat in the U.S. were converted in to crop production during the biofuel ramp-up in the years following the passage of the current RFS.

“We’re concerned that most biofuels are a cure worse than the disease,” said Congressman Waxman. “We’d like to have second-generation, ultra-low carbon fuels, but what we actually have is corn ethanol and soy and palm biodiesel. These food-based fuels offer no climate emissions advantages and contribute to the conversion of native habitats for agricultural production.”

Mighty Earth, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and others are also asking Congress to reform the RFS. Desired reforms include reducing mandated levels of food-based biofuels, maintaining supports for second-generation biofuels, and committing funding to restore lost wildlife habitat.

“The corn ethanol mandate has had massive unintended consequences on our public health, wildlife, and drinking water – and it’s time for our elected officials to make long-overdue reforms to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Congress can put in place common-sense, bipartisan reforms that advance sustainable fuels the right way – solutions that work for family farmers while protecting our water, wildlife, and economy.”

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune added, "The increase in ethanol production has resulted in the destruction of local land and water resources all while producing the same amount of dirty emissions as fossil fuels. It's obvious that corn ethanol is not a solution to the climate crisis. Communities and families across the country deserve truly clean fuel options that won't wreak havoc on their health and communities. It's high time the EPA stop subsidizing the ethanol industry and eliminate the use of ethanol in our fuels once and for all."


POSCO Daewoo palm oil concession

France announces new five-year climate plan that puts end to “imported deforestation” of products like palm oil and soy

Last week, Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot laid out France’s new “climate plan” which includes greater efforts to protect the world’s tropical rainforests in the Amazon, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Hulot noted that the climate plan intends to put an end to “imported deforestation.”

The French government's commitment to end the importation of products like palm and soy linked to deforestation is hopeful. Especially now with this action, France is leading the way in supporting zero-deforestation commodity production. "This is a new step toward a full implementation of the Paris agreement,” said Sebastien Mabile, Lawyer at the Paris Bar leading Mighty's campaign against deforestation in France. “It's a major change for the food industry supply chain."

Mighty is encouraged by the recent news, which sends a clear message that rainforest destruction is not acceptable.

“Companies have shown that it is possible to produce agricultural products without deforesting,” said Etelle Higonnet, Legal and Campaign Director at Mighty. “The Brazilian Soy Moratorium reduced deforestation caused by soy from nearly 30% of new soy expansion in the Brazilian Amazon to less than 1% in just three years.  Now, it is important these solutions are implemented in other parts of Latin America and in places like South East Asia and West and Central Africa, to ensure economic development is truly sustainable and equitable, and that benefits local communities and protects the world’s remaining tropical forests.”

France’s new plan, intended to meet the ambitious targets of the Paris climate accord and make the country carbon neutral by 2050, also includes stopping the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040 and coal produced electricity by 2022. The announcement comes months after France adopted “le Devoir De Vigilance” law in February 2017. The new law establishes obligations toward large companies to prevent serious violations of human rights and environmental damages, with the aim of restoring respect for human and ecological rights by multinational corporations.


Mighty Earth Calls Out EPA on Dirty Biofuels Proposal

A proposal released last week by the EPA includes troubling news for tropical forests and other ecosystems threatened by encroaching industrial agriculture. The proposal mandates record production levels for biodiesel and corn ethanol. These biofuels, once thought to be ‘green’, are now known to drive the conversion of forests, grasslands and other native ecosystems into crop production, and to rival if not exceed fossil fuels for climate emissions.

Take action and send a comment to the EPA here.

“Biofuels like corn ethanol and soy biodiesel are a cure worse than the disease,” said Mighty Earth Chairperson Henry Waxman. “Supporting environmentally unfriendly biofuels worsens our climate crisis and drives deforestation and habitat loss at home and abroad.”

Only a small fraction of biodiesel is made from waste or recycled sources, like used cooking oil. Most biodiesel used in the U.S. is produced using soy oil, and much of the biodiesel on the global market is palm oil based.

As the U.S. and other governments ratchet up demand for these types of biofuels, agri-businesses meet production by carving new farms out of virgin forests in places like Brazil, Bolivia and Indonesia, as the New York Times, YaleEnvironment360 and our own reports have documented. The forests of Latin America and Southeast Asia are hotspots of biodiversity and critical habitat for threatened species like the tree kangaroo, orangutan, jaguar and giant anteater.

When land conversion is fully considered, soy and palm biodiesel don’t provide any climate benefits, and those of corn ethanol are negligible. In fact, a recent analysis based on a European Union report found that soy and palm biodiesel are worse for the climate than fossil diesel.

Growing corn for ethanol has similar problems, and its effects are seen here in the U.S. The dramatic increase in corn production and has contributed to the conversion of more than 7 million acres of native ecosystems into agricultural land since 2008, according a National Wildlife Federation report based on a University of Wisconsin analysis.

Under the law that governs production of biofuels, the Renewable Fuel Standard, biodiesel production has skyrocketed, from under 10 million gallons in 2001 to 2.0 billion gallons in 2017. Corn ethanol has also seen enormous growth under this misguided government policy.

Mighty Earth urges the EPA to reconsider its biofuels proposal, and reduce mandated levels of biofuels linked to land conversion and climate emissions.

Take action and send a comment to the EPA here.