Global warming’s effects have become so extreme that food behemoths PepsiCo, General Mills, and Coca-Cola have been forced to make contingency plans. The prolonged droughts in California and Australia have made it clear to these companies that their survival is contingent upon their ability to secure water.
While renewed commitments to mitigating the effects of climate change also make for good PR, it appears that these companies are genuinely changing their ways in order to survive. General Mills has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 28 percent over the next 10 years. CEO Ken Powell put it bluntly: “Our business depends on it and so does the planet.”
According to UN estimates, 1.8 billion people globally could be faced with water shortages in the next 10 years. Currently, 700 million people already suffer from water scarcity.
The grains that General Mills requires to produce breakfast cereals and granola bars are directly threatened by water shortage. Likewise, PepsiCo is concerned about future access to water and has already put its water-conserving plans into action. The company’s chief scientific officer Dr. Mehmood Khan reported that from 2006 to 2014, PepsiCo decreased its water use by 23 percent to ensure long-term sustainability. In an interview with The Street, he acknowledged that “Water is no longer free for everybody.”
Back in August, Coca-Cola announced that it was well on its way to meeting its goal of replenishing every drop of the 300 billion liters of water it needs to produce its beverages each year. Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have recently announced commitments to decreasing the carbon emissions of their massive delivery fleets.
While it might be hard to accept the authenticity of such sweeping commitments from such hugely profitable companies, the urgency of their concerns is very real. Corporations aren’t people, but just like us, they need water to survive.