WASHINGTON — JBS S.A. is subject to a whistleblower case filed by Mighty Earth over the meat processor’s green bonds.
Mighty Earth asked the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to conduct an investigation into alleged fraudulent use of green bonds and to set clear standards for what constitutes “sustainable.”
In 2020, JBS committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, which it hopes to achieve by 2040. The following year, the company issued $3.2 billion in four green bonds that were tied to its sustainability goals.
“Because JBS is striving to achieve its net-zero target by 2040, it will require our company to be both as innovative and proactive as possible,” JBS spokesperson Nikki Richardson told MEAT+POULTRY. “Consistent with our global sustainability strategy, JBS issued sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs) tied to our commitment to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity by 30% by 2030. This allows us to address areas we have direct control over — our own facilities.”
Mighty Earth’s complaint said JBS’s footprint has not decreased but rather increased in recent years. A second central component to the complaint is that JBS omitted Scope 3 supply chain emissions, which comprise around 97% of the company’s footprint, according to Mighty Earth.
“JBS seduced investors with sustainability pledges, but those pledges had practically zilch to do with the actual source of JBS’s supersized climate impact,” said Glenn Hurowitz, chief executive officer at Mighty Earth. “Companies simply shouldn’t be able to ignore the environmental impact of 97% of their operations and then market themselves as green.”
Addressing Hurowitz’s concerns about the neglect of Scope 3 emissions, JBS announced plans to share company targets addressing Scopes 1, 2 and 3 in 2023.
“We are also in the process of establishing and validating the company’s emissions baseline across Scopes 1, 2 and 3, and JBS will be submitting our baseline and net-zero targets to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) in 2023,” Richardson said. “This will allow us to build a comprehensive roadmap plan of action based on data to achieve this goal across our global operations, including Scope 3 emissions. Importantly, we have a number of Scope 3 projects already underway around the world.”
Mighty Earth released a report on alleged cattle laundering through JBS in December 2021. Similar to its recent complaint, Mighty Earth’s report questioned the processor’s ethics and sustainability, alleging that JBS was raising cattle on illegally deforested land in South America.