Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

GettyImages-84709618-mcdonalds

A McDonald's restaurant in San Francisco, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

'We Don't Have 30 More Years': McDonald's Rebuked for Greenwashing Climate Pledge

"Net-zero is not a climate solution, it's an accounting trick."

Jenna McGuire

A prominent climate group accused the McDonald's corporation of another greenwashing stunt on Monday after the burger giant announced it would cut global greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050.
 

"If McDonald's changed its menu immediately it would make a big difference but waiting until 2050 is insufficient to avoid climate catastrophe."

"This is another stunt in a long line of greenwashing trends from McDonalds," said Jennifer Molidor, senior food campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. "Net zero is not a climate solution, it's an accounting trick. The company's beef footprint alone produces more than 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. If McDonald's changed its menu immediately it would make a big difference but waiting until 2050 is insufficient to avoid climate catastrophe. We don't have 30 more years to get this right."
 
The company's 2050 net-zero target includes everything from its beef production to the light bulbs in its restaurants.
 
The fast-food chain also revealed it is working with the nonprofit Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to improve its existing climate targets and aims to lower total emissions by about a third for both its suppliers and its nearly 40,000 company-run and franchised restaurants around the world by 2030.
 
"We're trying to send a signal to our partners, to our investors, to our suppliers, to other brands in the global community, to policymakers, that we share that vision for 2050," McDonald's chief sustainability officer Jenny McColloch told Reuters in an interview.
 
McDonald's is one of the largest beef purchasers in the world―and the vast majority of its total emissions are produced by its supply chain, which includes beef, chicken, dairy, and other proteins.
 
The company's announcement comes as environmentalists continue to warn about the dire impacts of animal agriculture, including a September report published in Nature Food that detailed how global food production accounts for more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy responsible for twice as much planet-heating carbon pollution as plant-based foods.
 
As reported in Common Dreams, according to the study, beef production contributes 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions—by far the biggest culprit, followed by cow's milk, pork, and chicken.
 
A 2019 special report on climate change and land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommended plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis―and included a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Store Walkout Over Firing of Starbucks Union Organizer Racks Up 20 Million Views on TikTok

"Starbucks continues its rampant firing of union leaders."

Jake Johnson ·


70% of Americans Support Deciding State Abortion Rights by Ballot Measure: Poll

After an "enormous victory" in Kansas, some progressives argue that ballot measures "are the next frontier" for protecting access to reproductive healthcare.

Jessica Corbett ·


Judge Rules Walgreens 'Substantially Contributed' to San Francisco Opioid Crisis

"Walgreens knew its system to detect and stop suspicious orders was nonexistent but continued to ship opioids at an alarming pace to increase profits," said an attorney for the California city.

Brett Wilkins ·


Historic Climate Bill, Say Clear-Eyed Critics, Still 'Pours Gasoline on the Flames'

"This was a backdoor take-it-or-leave-it deal between a coal baron and Democratic leaders in which any opposition from lawmakers or frontline communities was quashed," said one activist.

Jessica Corbett ·


Doctors Against Oz Launch Campaign Denouncing GOP Candidate as 'Quack'

"ShamWow guy + stethoscope = Dr. Oz," said John Fetterman, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo