Climate change threatens one of the single most crucial ingredients at Nestlé, the world’s largest food company. However, instead of demanding for aggressive action to cut carbon emissions, Nestlé’s chairman denies that humans are the cause of global warming at all.
In an interview with The Guardian, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck argued against climate action, arguing the change in global temperature is natural and cyclical — a familiar point from the climate denier playbook. He worried that confronting the issue is similar to humans playing “God”:
Climate change is an intrinsic part of the development of the world. Since the world has existed we have had climate changes and we will have climate change as long as the world exists … For me the issue is more about what can we do in order to adapt to climate change and perhaps to try to gain more time … Are we God to say the climate, as it is today, is the one we have to keep? That’s the way it’s going to be? We are not God. What we have to assure is that climate change happens within a timeframe that humankind can adapt to.
If too much CO2 emission is accelerating climate change in a manner that will take away the possibility for us to adapt to it then we have a problem, but what I think is wrong to say is that we are going to stop climate change today. It’s not the natural approach. What we have to get to grips with is the speed with which climate change is happening and to have the same speed for us to adapt to it.
It is a strange position to take for a chocolate producer, because the $9 billion cocao industry faces a serious blow from climate change. By 2050, the land supplying half the world’s cocoa may become unsuitable for farming, because it will be too hot for the heat-sensitive cacao tree. It’s not the only food being ruined due to a drier, hotter climates: The supply for coffee, grapes, apples, peanut butter, and maple syrup is shrinking too. Brabeck’s strange logic here also suggests there is a ceiling to warming, regardless of how much pollution there is. But scientists have warned that even a 2 degrees Celsius threshold may already be out-of-reach.
Brabeck has controversial opinions on water too, another consequential area impacted by climate change. Last year, he was accused of arguing water is not a human right and should be privatized. Brabeck has since clarified: He thinks water for drinking and hygeine is a right, but the rest of it, 98.5 percent, should be in private hands.
Nestlé itself takes a very different position on the seriousness of greenhouse gasses. Nestlé’s website states, “We believe that governments, companies and individuals must take measures both to reduce air emissions, and to adapt to climate change.”