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McDonald's Says It Will Need 30 Years to Make This Major Change

The company plans on achieving a major climate change goal by 2050.
FACT CHECKED BY Mura Dominko

This week, McDonald's announced that it would need another 30 years to reach a major milestone in the way it operates. The chain said it plans on dramatically cutting back on its carbon emissions at all its global stores in order to achieve net zero emissions by the year 2050.

To reach the net zero target, McDonald's is committing to reduce and offset emissions created by its tens of thousands of restaurants, its corporate locations, and those created by its farming and supply chain activities. The latter will produce the biggest challenge, as according to Reuters, some four-fifths of McDonald's total emissions are farm- and supply chain-related.

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The move is a major step in the right direction when it comes to combating climate change. McDonald's operates about 39,000 restaurants worldwide and is hoping to inspire other major players in the industry to follow suit. The fast-food giant is joining well over 1,000 other sizable corporations in making the pledge, including other major chains such as Burger King and Starbucks which announced similar goals for their tens of thousands of global locations.

"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 may well enjoy some positive PR following their announcement, but this move is hardly a publicity stunt; in fact, the real winner here is the climate and all those who live within it. According to a report from Reuters, McDonald's is one of the largest buyers of beef on the planet. And it's well-established that methane emissions from cattle farming are a large source of greenhouse gasses.

The term "net zero" refers to the effective output of zero greenhouse gas emissions, those being the gases responsible for the global warming climate crisis. "We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away," according to National Grid. So to be clear, reaching this goal does not mean a company's activities produce zero carbon dioxide, methane, or other climate change contributors. Rather it means that they are limiting the output and offsetting the amount they do produce enough to effectively curtail emissions.

According to the International Energy Agency, humanity needs to reach net zero emissions by the year 2050 to stop average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, if we want to have a fighting chance to stop climate change from dramatically altering the world as we know it.

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Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more