(Bloomberg) -- New York state is suing JBS SA over allegations the world’s biggest meat-packer misled “the public about its environmental impact.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James said the meat producer has failed to provide a viable plan to meet a widely-advertised commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and that it could not feasibly meet such a goal, according to a filing. The company “has made several misleading claims about its environmental impact, including pledges to curb deforestation and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said.

Several companies across different industries have made net zero commitments over the past few years amid growing pressure from investors, regulators and environmental groups. Still, many of them are yet to provide a clear pathway for decarbonization. Climate-washing claims against business have also become more usual, with most cases being originated in the US. 

“We’ve seen a rise in suits targeting greenwashing, particularly as some companies have walked back prior commitments,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Rob Du Boff. “The challenge is proving these companies intentionally misled investors or customers.”

The move by New York comes on top of fierce opposition by environmental groups and lawmakers to JBS’s long-standing plans for a listing in the US. The meat packer recently said the move would likely be delayed into the second half of 2024. The Sao Paulo-traded company plans to file a new registration statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission after its earnings release on March 26, Chief Financial Officer Guilherme Cavalcanti has said. 

Read More: How Big Beef Is Fueling the Amazon’s Destruction

Shares of the Sao Paulo-based company fell 2% on Wednesday.

JBS said it takes its commitment to a more sustainable future for agriculture very seriously. “We disagree with the action taken today by the New York Attorney General’s office,” the company said in an email. “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.”

The food industry’s climate footprint is immense, accounting for about a third of global greenhouse gases. Livestock, which releases potent methane, makes up 14.5% of worldwide emissions. The Science-Based Targets initiative, a United Nations-backed agency that evaluates companies’ net zero goals, recommends the food and agriculture sector cuts emissions by 3% a year between 2020 and 2030. 

Read More: Rising Livestock Emissions Undermine World’s Climate Fight 

In a 2023 study, researchers at Carbon Market Watch and the New Climate Institute found JBS had among the lowest integrity scores among 24 of the biggest global companies that have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality and positioned themselves as climate leaders. 

The company has also been tied to purchasing thousands of cattle directly from illegally deforested farms in the Amazon.

Just last month, a group of UK lawmakers said it was planning to push the SEC to block a US listing of JBS on the New York Stock Exchange, citing efforts to fight climate change. 

Read More: Reject JBS New York Stock Listing, UK Lawmakers Urge

The company has been seeking a US listing for more than a decade, following its aggressive expansion that has made it a global giant. With operations from Colorado to New Zealand, the company is the largest producer of beef and chicken, the second-biggest supplier of pork and the No. 1 ready-meals company in the UK. US-based operations generated almost half of JBS’s revenue in 2022. 

The company sees a New York listing as a key part of its strategy to use equity to fund a deeper expansion into the branded and processed-food business, which typically commands higher profit margins than its beef, pork and chicken processing operations. 

--With assistance from Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.

(Corrects year in second paragraph.)

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