Business - 12/December/2018

Sustainable in a generation

Belgium’s complicated political structures keep the country’s climate action ambition low. Mars, a US corporation, is showing the way forward with 100% renewable energy and greener transport

“A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.” It was a slogan that resonated among generations of chocolate bar eaters. More recently the global confectionary maker has added a new and more urgent edge to its marketing speak. In 2017, Mars launched a science-based “sustainable in a generation” plan based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It pledged to invest almost $1 billion to tackle “urgent threats” to the world, including climate change, and to put renewables and energy efficiency at the heart of its operations and its entire supply chain. Kathy Heungens from Mars Belgium, says: “Mars has the impact of a small country and this brings responsibilities.”

The company, which also makes other food products including for pets, already uses 100% renewable electricity to power its operations in the US, the UK and other European countries. Australia and Mexico are next in line. The aim is to remove direct greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 2040 and to reduce emissions across its value chain by 67% by 2050. As well as going all renewable for its electricity, Mars Belgium is also greening its transport. It wants to lead by example rather than wait for legislation to bring about change.

Passing any kind of legislation in Belgium takes time given the country’s complicated legislative structure, as the Climate Policy Observatory, run by the Italian think-tank ICCG, underlines. Divided into three regions, Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels-Capital, the country's climate legislation is characterised by a strong regional influence. “Political fragmentation and lack of clarity in the division of competences and responsibilities between the federal and the regional governments” cause inconsistencies in national climate legislation, says the observatory. ...

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