As concerns about climate change grow internationally, two seafood companies – Lerøy Seafood Group and Grieg Seafood – along with other food companies, have committed to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
SBTi is an initiative designed to encourage companies to meet specific targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Participating companies set science-based targets that align with the trajectory recommended in the Paris Climate Accords, which aims to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius or lower.
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report warned that a 1.5-degree Celsius temperature increase could have catastrophic global impacts, including on the seafood industry. It said global emissions must reach net-zero by 2050 to avoid that increase. To reach this goal by 2050, according to the report, emissions must be halved by 2030.
The SBTi provides clearly-defined near-term and long-term ways to reduce emissions and keep companies on the path to reaching the Paris Climate Accord goals. For many companies, that path includes reducing emissions by at least 90 to 95 percent by 2050.
Two seafood companies have committed and attained approved targets set by SBTi so far: Lerøy Seafood Group ASA and Grieg Seafood ASA, both based in Norway.
Lerøy Seafood Group has committed to reduce scopes 1, 2, and 3 of greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent by 2030 from its base year of 2019. Company actions have focused on converting diesel-driven barges to electric power or hybrid solutions.
Lerøy Seafood Group Head of Quality and Sustainability Anne Hilde Midttveit said concern over future CO2 emission taxes raising prices of seafood and sea temperature changes leading to changes in catch volume for its current species is driving the company commitment.
“The goal is very ambitious, but with focus, good management, and a close cooperation through the entire value chain, from supplier to end-customer, we will reach this goal,"Midttveit said. "When we set a goal in Lerøy our experience is that we reach it. We need to work together."
Grieg Seafood ASA also committed to reduce scopes 1, 2, and 3 of greenhouse gas emissions, in its case reducing emissions by 35 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050 from a starting year of 2018. The company is currently testing technologies to replace diesel engines with battery packs, hybrid solutions, wind turbines, and solar panels. Company plans for reducing emissions also include the reduction of supply chain emissions – such as chilling of salmon to avoid ice packaging, and partnering with a project to replace the use of trucks with transportation by train from Northern Norway to Southern Sweden.
“All industries and companies must do their part to avoid a climate crisis. That includes the aquaculture industry and Grieg Seafood. Cutting carbon emissions is one of the challenges we have to solve,” Grieg Seafood CEO Andreas Kvame said.
Other food companies have also joined in with the initiatives. Nomad, a United-Kingdom headquartered frozen foods company, has also joined the SBTi. The company is reducing emissions in areas of transportation, distribution, and purchased goods, as well as ensuring 75 percent of its suppliers develop their own science-based targets by 2025. Klaus Beyer Nielson, the CEO of Eperson – which supplies frozen fish to Nomad foods – said Nomad's involvement has encouraged its suppliers to push their own progress on sustainability efforts.
“Environment and climate have always been an important part of Espersen’s sustainability agenda throughout the value chain,” Nielson said. “The fact that Nomad Foods’ climate goals have been approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative sends a clear signal to us as a strategic supplier to reduce our own emissions further. In addition, we will also urge our producers to reduce their climate impact.”
Companies interested in committing to the SBTi standards start by submitting a letter of intent, which is followed up with a two-year process that requires the company to develop an emissions-reduction target in line with targets. SBTi must then approve those targets, after which companies begin to track progress. Greenhouse gas emission cuts can come from three main sources: Processes the company uses, such as generators or vehicles; purchased electricity and heat from external providers; and emissions produced by suppliers and end-users in the supply chain.
After joining the program, participating companies are provided with detailed feedback and support from SBTi’s technical experts. After a commitment letter has been signed, businesses will be immediately recognized on the SBTi, CDP, U.N. Global Compact, and We Mean Business websites.
SBTi is still developing a process to track company progress. Starting in 2025, participating companies will also be required to review targets every five years to ensure the targets are in line with the most-recent climate science.
“We have catapulted ambitious corporate climate action into the mainstream – aligning with climate science is now business as usual for many companies worldwide,” SBTi Co-Founder and Managing Director Alberto Carrillo Pineda said. “But the race to net-zero is a marathon and we’ve barely taken the first step. Climate science has made the urgency clear – we are at ‘code red’ for humanity. In order to address the climate crisis, we must double down our efforts, align with a 1.5 degree Celsius future, and accelerate deep and urgent decarbonization.”