Climate & Energy


Climate change presents a global challenge with broad and far-reaching implications for generations to come. We acknowledge the findings of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change —“that human influence on the climate system is clear,” and “limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.” Our statements on energy and climate change can be found in our Climate Change Position Document.

We recognize the need for strong collaboration between governments and the private sector to mitigate climate change’s adverse impacts. This includes the Company’s active participation and influence to help develop solutions to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change across our System. Our climate-related goals are summarized as part of the White House American Business Act on Climate Pledge.


Our 2020 Aspirational Goals

  • 20% increase in energy efficiency of Company-owned restaurants.
    (Top 9 Markets excluding Brazil and Japan. Develop Franchisee goal in 2016.)
  • Increase energy efficiency through restaurant standards.
    (Top 9 Markets. Develop goals in 2014.)


With respect to our first energy goal, the Company’s energy efficiency as measured in kWh/guest count increased by about 8% during 2015, for a net increase of about 2% over the 2013 baseline, following a decrease in 2014. This improvement is a result of efforts to reduce energy usage, improve energy management in the restaurants, and advance energy measurement systems, as well as increased guest visits to our restaurants, among other factors. Moving forward, we will continue to drive energy management practices in the restaurants, and evaluate additional approaches to track restaurant energy efficiency progress more holistically.

When the Company established its Global Sustainability Framework, our plan was to develop a quantitative goal to increase energy efficiency through restaurant standards before the end of 2014. We did not develop that goal in 2014 as other business needs prompted us to change our approach to global restaurant standards more broadly. We update our global restaurant standards periodically over time, and continue to embed environmental considerations within relevant categories. Meanwhile, various McDonald’s markets continued moving ahead with energy efficiency improvements in lighting, equipment and operational practices. As we continue to advance our strategic work in this area, we expect to evolve the structure, metrics, and scope of these aspirations in the next year using an appropriate baseline.


McDonald's Europe Renewable Energy Commitments

McDonald’s European markets have pursued various renewable energy initiatives over the past decade. In 2014, the McDonald’s company-owned and franchised restaurants in Europe purchased 76% of their electricity from renewable sources across 21 markets, 10 of which have achieved or are working toward purchasing 100% renewable electricity. 2015 progress will be available later this year. McDonald’s U.K. has committed for a 20-year period to purchase renewable energy directly from new infrastructure. By enabling the development of renewable energy generating infrastructure in this manner, McDonald’s U.K. anticipates saving on energy costs over the long term.  

In 2015, McDonald’s USA became a signatory to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, developed by World Wildlife Fund and World Resources Institute (WRI). We support a shared mission to increase access to cost-competitive renewable energy across the McDonald’s U.S. System.

Looking to the Future

McDonald’s markets around the world are implementing a variety of energy efficiency solutions. At the global level, the Company is also looking toward the next generation of energy innovations that might be relevant to restaurant operations. In 2014, a study was completed to explore the feasibility of a net-zero energy McDonald’s restaurant–one that consumes only as much renewable energy as it generates on-site in one year. The study, prepared by Rocky Mountain Institute, Fisher Nickel, Inc. and New Buildings Institute, examined the technical and financial feasibility of achieving a new net-zero energy restaurant in the U.S. The study also looked at the potential energy savings and the gap between theoretical achievable and real energy demand, based on three representative McDonald’s restaurants. Another energy efficiency study was commissioned by McDonald’s Austria analyzing energy saving potentials in different areas of the restaurant. Though these studies were preliminary, the findings could help shape the path of the Company’s future energy efficiency and sustainability efforts.

McDonald's Global Energy and Carbon Footprint

In 2013 we worked with a consulting firm to estimate the System-wide carbon footprint, including GHG emissions associated with restaurants, Company offices and our entire food and packaging supply chain. The footprint was calculated using a hybrid life cycle assessment model based on the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Based on the 2013 study, approximately 70% of System-wide GHG emissions are associated with our supply chain. As described in the Sourcing section of this website, we work with our suppliers to track relevant sustainability metrics for raw materials and processing, and we encourage their participation in multi-stakeholder initiatives to address the environmental impacts in our agricultural supply chains. As part of our efforts to manage System-wide GHG emissions, on April 21st, 2015, McDonald's announced a global Commitment on Forests across the Company's expansive global supply chain. The commitment encompasses the entire supply chain and focuses on priority products, including: beef, fiber-based packaging, coffee, palm oil, and poultry.

Approximately 30% of System-wide GHG emissions are associated with McDonald’s restaurant operations and Company offices. To mitigate this impact, we are incorporating energy efficiency solutions into our equipment decisions, building standards and operational practices.