Fast-food chains lead the way in contributing to India’s CO2 emissions

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Carbon dioxide

A report by an international NGO which has studied some of the fastest growing multinational fast-food chains in India has warned that just eight of the companies combined could contribute the equivalent of nearly 1m more tonnes of carbon emissions by 2020.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, which was founded in Britain, found that the fast-food segment featured the biggest contributors to hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) emissions in India.

American-based companies including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway and Dunkin Donuts, as well as homegrown Café Coffee Day and Anglo-Indian Hindustan Unilever, were all named in the report.

Developing countries like India are expected to join a global HFC phase down, and it behoves multinational corporations to do their part for the climate​,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA’s global climate campaign director. 

With climate-friendly, cost-effective technologies already available, these companies have no excuse to rely on super greenhouse gases​.” 

The NGO has called on the businesses to recognise the “enormous potential for emissions reductions in India​” by reducing refrigeration footprints and publicly committing to an end to HFC-based equipment from 2019. 

The Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment has seized on the EIA report to criticise American food and beverage multinationals for not doing enough to reduce the use of HFCs in their India operations while starting to move to alternate refrigerants in Europe and North America.

““Big American companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and McDonald’s are not doing anything to cut down on emissions on HFCs, at a time when the White House and the US government themselves are desperate to get a deal at the Montreal protocol to phase-down of HFCs​,” said Chandra Bhushan, the CSE’s deputy director general.

The think tank has renewed calls for the environment ministry to restrict the use of HFCs among these multinationals.

India’s fast-food industry is expected to grow from US$15bn today to be worth more than US$50bn in five years. 

McDonald’s, with more than 350 stores and growing, has not converted to climate-friendly alternatives in India where it has done so in other regions, such as Europe, EIA claimed. 

Nor has Subway, the world’s biggest fast-food chain by store count, stated any intent to go HFC-free in India, the report added. 

EIA has called on the Indian government to ban the use of HFCs with a global warming potential higher than 1,000 in new food and beverage refrigeration equipment from 2018 among multinational food and beverage retailers. 

The Parties to the Montreal Protocol will meet in October to reach an agreement on the global phase-down of HFCs. 

EIA said it believes that a successful agreement has the potential to mitigate 100bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050. 

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