Leading retailers have smashed 2020 carbon reduction targets according to the latest data from the British Retail Consortium which shows that carbon emissions have fallen by 49% since 2005, far exceeding the target of a 25% absolute reduction.

Other good news came from carbon emissions in stores and store deliveries, which fell 46% and 84% respectively (when controlled for growth). These targets form part of the BRC’s Climate Action Roadmap whereby over 70 leading retailers have pledged to help the UK retail industry and its supply chain reach Net Zero by 2040.

Reaching Net Zero will require a collective effort by the whole retail industry. The BRC today announced that Steve Murrells, Co-op Group CEO, will chair the steering group of the Climate Action Roadmap that aims to drive forward these targets. The steering group includes CEOs and Senior Executives of some of the country’s best-known retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Iceland, IKEA, Mountain Warehouse, Dunelm and Feelunique and will establish and oversee the strategy and progress in getting the UK retail industry to Net Zero by 2040. This work is supported by five partnerships – one for each focus area of the Roadmap – with Crown Estate, DP World, Google, IBM and PWC.

There is still much more needed to reach this ambitious target by 2040. Retailers have pledged to decarbonise stores by 2030 and deliveries by 2035; the roadmap will focus on the key challenge of working with suppliers to ensure that products sold are also net zero by 2040. However, the latest data shows that while carbon emissions from transport fell 43% when controlled for growth, just off the 45% target, absolute emissions fell by just 15%. To reduce transport emissions in the future, the BRC has recently commissioned research under the Climate Action Roadmap aimed at helping the industry rapidly decarbonise.

Peter Andrews, Head of Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said:

“It’s a fantastic achievement to have halved greenhouse gases from our stores and lorries in little over a decade. However, we recognise we can do much more by helping drive decarbonisation across our supply chains and supporting our customers, the British public, to live lower carbon lifestyles through the products they buy. Our Climate Action Roadmap sets out our path to net zero operations and supply chains by 2040.”

Steve Murrells, Co-op Group CEO, said:
“Global society is facing a monumental climate crisis, entirely of its own making. We must all recognise that we are in part responsible and that we all have to do more to foster change and do it more quickly.

“The global response to the pandemic has shown us what we can achieve when the need is great and urgent enough. The required levels of co-operation needed to tackle climate change are unprecedented and the BRC Roadmap will help unify UK retailers around a common purpose.

“Building on our own climate commitments to get to Net Zero by 2040 at the latest, I’m honoured to be leading the Climate Action Roadmap steering group to help bring about bold and collective action across our industry and play a part in making things fairer for our planet.

“It’s also a matter of pride that it’s the UK retail sector that is going first and leading the world with this type of collaboration.”

Better Retail Better World20192020TARGET
Change in Carbon Emissions Total (absolute level for buildings & transport carbon)-45%-49%-25%
Change in carbon emissions from deliveries (controlled for growth)-43%-46%-45%
Change in carbon emissions from stores (controlled for growth)-74%-84%-50%
Change in carbon emissions from transport (absolute)-14%-15%-45%
Change in carbon emissions from transport (controlled for growth)-38%-43%-45%

*All figures compare emissions against a 2005 baseline