New York attorney general sues world's largest beef producer over greenhouse gas emissions

According to Letitia James, JBS USA's promise to try to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 is just a marketing strategy.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against JBS USA, the world's leading beef producer, accusing the company of misleading the public about its impact on the environment.

The lawsuit focuses on JBS USA's statements about its net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goals for 2030 and 2040, which Letitia James calls misleading and "not feasible" due to the size of the company's global operations.

In a statement, James stated that JBS USA's net-zero emissions promises constitute a strategy to mislead the public about its environmental commitment. The New York attorney general emphasized that beef production has the largest greenhouse gas footprint among food products. Furthermore, she highlighted that, in 2021, JBS reported total global greenhouse gas emissions exceeding 71 million tons.

"As families continue to face the daily impacts of the climate crisis, they are willing to spend more of their hard-earned money on products from brands that are better for the environment. When companies falsely advertise their commitment to sustainability, they are misleading consumers and endangering our planet," James said. "JBS USA’s greenwashing exploits the pocketbooks of everyday Americans and the promise of a healthy planet for future generations," she added.

The lawsuit received support from state Democrats and climate advocacy organizations, including Earthjustice, Mighty Earth, Friends of the Earth US, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Peter Lehner, an attorney for Earthjustice, said JBS USA's claims of net zero emissions by 2040 are misleading and that the company must implement significant operational changes.

JBS USA reacts

In response to the lawsuit, Nikki Richardson, a spokesperson for JBS USA, said the company disagrees with the attorney general's action and reaffirmed the company's commitment to agricultural sustainability.

“JBS will continue to partner with farmers, ranchers and our food system partners around the world to help feed a growing population while using fewer resources and reducing agriculture’s environmental impact. Our belief that American agriculture can help sustainably feed the world is undeterred,” she said.

Letitia James' lawsuit against JBS USA is a reflection of the growing attention from environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers toward the agricultural industry.