Deforestation (2)

Pilgrim’s Pride and Moy Park owner JBS has demanded a withdrawal of allegations its greenhouse gas emissions rose by over 50% in the five years to 2021.

The Brazilian meat giant said an April study by research organisation the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy had arrived at “simply false” conclusions after making “serious methodological errors” and “gross data deviations”.

The São Paulo-headquartered producer this week said it wanted ”an immediate retraction” of the claims, in which it was accused it of “a staggering 51%” increase in emissions between 2016-21. Such a surge, the report said, would make JBS “responsible for greater emissions than Italy’s annual climate footprint” – or an amount equivalent to fossil fuel giant Total’s 2020 emissions.

While JBS “acknowledged” it had “a lot of work still to do to meet our net zero ambition”, it said the research set out to “mislead” and “misconstrued” its emission-reduction efforts.

Following a “thorough review” of the claims made against it “independent experts have found that the report uses an erroneous methodology and gross data deviations to arrive at conclusions about JBS emissions that are simply false, thereby misleading journalists, readers, and the general public”, said JBS in a statement.

In a detailed rebuttal, the supplier said the research “took into account the operational capacity, not what was actually processed”.

“This exaggerated figure was then multiplied by the number of business days in the year, assuming utilisation of 97% of the company’s capacity, despite the IATP itself using a capacity of 62% in its 2016 baseline report,” JBS added.

“The IATP offered no justification for the change. If there was methodological coherence by the authors and had they applied the same rate to the 2021 data, the IATP would have arrived at an emissions reduction of 3%,” JBS claimed.

But Gemma Hoskins, UK director at Mighty Earth, which in April published a related report about JBS, said the data “paints a different story” to JBS’ pledges to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and to be “free of illegal deforestation in the Amazon and other precious biomes” in less than three years’ time.

“Rather than making noises about being transparent about their supply chains and emissions, why don’t JBS disclose their most recent data?” Hoskins said. “It’s time for JBS to come clean about their global slaughter figures, so we can determine with pinpoint accuracy the scale of their climate footprint.”

In a statement, IATP echoed Hoskins’ demand that JBS publish its slaughter numbers, which IATP said it had calculated using “UN approved methodology” and the “latest publicly available data” which it found on company filings to the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

This latest series of broadsides followed an acrimonious exchange at the time the report was published. JBS said it “made misleading claims”, prompting IATP to retort that “we stand by our numbers and maintain that they are likely a conservative estimate”.

JBS and environmentalists at odds over Italy-sized emissions claims