Setting science based GHG targets in sugarcane

19th October 2022

We have launched a project to develop science-based targets and tools that will help companies in the sugarcane sector to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with science to create a stable climate.

To avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, global warming needs to be kept below 1.5°C. Bonsucro is working with sustainability consultant, Quantis, to develop a GHG mitigation pathway for sugarcane.

Bonsucro has over 290 members in more than 50 countries across the whole sugarcane supply chain and will use its convening role to lead the way to a net-zero, climate-resilient future.

Our members are committed to change and strive to boost sustainability in sugarcane production and processing. As seen in our latest Outcome Report, Bonsucro-certified mills and farms reduce their CO2 emissions per kilo of sugar by an average of 18% within five years. Reductions come from implementing more environmentally friendly farming and milling practices such as lower fertiliser use and more efficient transportation. However, there is more to do.

Our GHG mitigation project will calculate a baseline of land-based greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of sugarcane produced. It will then set ambitious but achievable targets to reduce these emissions. The pathway will also consider sugarcane’s strength in efficiently removing carbon from the atmosphere, and the environmental benefits of using sugarcane derivatives as alternatives for fossil fuels, such as biofuels and bioplastics.

Through the project, we will share sector-wide methodologies and metrics for monitoring forest, land and agriculture (FLAG)-related carbon emissions that will enable companies to set reduction targets, grounded in science. These will cover scope 1 (direct), scope 2 (indirect) and scope 3 (supply chain) emissions in sugarcane production up to the farm gate.

The project has the backing of several key industry partners, including three mill groups in Brazil: Tereos, Raízen, and São Martinho, all of which were at Bonsucro Global Week for the announcement. Each mill group has agreed to pilot the tool next year.

Oscar Paulino, Sustainability Manager of Grupo São Martinho, said, “São Martinho is in the process of defining science-based climate goals and Bonsucro’s pioneering approach to designing an industry-specific method for defining these goals will be essential for the contribution to be significant and for all the climatic benefits of the production, processing and use of sugarcane derivatives to be taken into account.

Although a growing number of companies have made commitments to net-zero emissions and to support the Paris Agreement on climate change, many aren’t grounded in science. Bonsucro wants to use its position as a global sustainability platform to ensure the pathway is useful for all actors in the sugarcane value chain, in all countries.

Danielle Morley, Bonsucro’s CEO said, “Over the past few days at Bonsucro Global Week, we’ve heard from a range of stakeholders that the sector is ready to scale up sustainability efforts. Our new project will provide our members and the wider sector with practical guidance and tools to tackle the climate crisis and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Bringing the sector together and looking for solutions like this is exactly what Bonsucro is about.”

The project will be finalised at the end of 2023 when we will publish sector targets and tools. We are looking for organisations to contribute to the project by volunteering to pilot the tool, sharing public support for a sector-wide approach, and joining a public consultation in 2023. Details of how to do this are found on this page of our website.

We have been driving sustainability in sugarcane for more than a decade. This week, we convened our members and others in the sector at Bonsucro Global Week. The event was opened by Joaquim Leite, Brazil’s Ministry of Environment alongside other high profile industry players such as Danielle Machado S. Conde, from Brazil’s National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP).Representatives from big brands such as PepsiCo, The Hershey Company, Ferrero, and Tetra Pak also attended.

During the project launch at Global Week, our Country Manager, Livia Ignacio, invited the attendees to come to the stage if they support the initiative. We were thrilled to see 12 different people come to the stage and announce their support, including representatives from Godavari Biorefineries and ASR Group.

Visit the project page of our website, download the report, and publicly share your support with our digital tools.