Global rights group Oxfam International has slammed Australia’s peak food industry body for in a report on the broader food industry’s failure to cut carbon emissions and adequately tackle climate change.
In Standing on the Sidelines – why food and beverage companies must do more to tackle climate change, Oxfam placed the spotlight on the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) for having attempted to block action on climate change.
In particular, the group pointed out how the AFGC, which represents all food and beverage processors operating in Australia, took a position actively supporting the repeal of the Australian carbon tax legislation.
In mid-2012, the Australian Federal government introduced a carbon price of A$23 per tonne of emitted carbon dioxide on selected fossil fuels consumed by major industrial emitters and government bodies, such as councils.
The revenue was used to reduce income tax, by increasing the tax-free threshold, and increase pensions and welfare payments slightly to cover expected price increases, as well as introducing compensation for affected industries.
Australia will have a new Senate on July 1 and it is expected that one of the first orders of business after the Labor-Greens majority is swept away would be the removal of the Carbon Tax.
In its submission on the issue of the repeal in November 2013, the AFGC had said that it welcomed the removal of the carbon tax, calling it a step towards reducing “the cost burden on food and grocery manufacturers, which is impeding their competitiveness”.
The AFGC had then pointed out to a survey carried out by it in mid-2013 that found that 89% of the respondents experienced increases of up to 10% in their operating costs.
The Oxfam report also lists the “Big 10” as Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever
According to Oxfam, half of the emissions from these companies come from the production of agricultural materials from their supply chains, however the reduction targets that the companies have set do not cover these emissions.