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Retailers join forces to tackle climate change in the Race to Zero

Published: 7 July 2021 - James Mead

Leading retailers H&M Group, Ingka Group (IKEA), Kingfisher plc and Walmart today launched a new climate change initiative – the Race to Zero Breakthroughs: Retail Campaign – in partnership with the COP26 High Level Climate Action Champions and supported by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Retailers have pledged their support to accelerate a movement in the retail industry to drive climate action and encourage other retailers to set out their plans to achieve 1.5 degree aligned carbon reduction targets.

 

The retail sector faces unprecedented challenges due to climate change, which have only been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The imperative to take action to limit warming to 1.5°C has never been higher. Despite bold actions from some leading retail brands, a decarbonization pathway for the sector is notably absent, with only 5% of retail businesses – by total global industry revenues – having committed to taking action to limit global warming in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals.

“I encourage the retail industry to join us and take immediate climate action to halve global emissions by 2030. Together, we can win the Race to Zero.” - Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Champion for COP26

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the organization leading the campaign, said: “This campaign is a call to retailers everywhere to take ambitious climate action as they increasingly recognize the risks posed by climate change across their supply chains and operations. We need more retailers to join the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero and showcase leadership and commitment, like H&M Group, Ingka Group (IKEA), Kingfisher and Walmart.”

He emphasized that “The climate emergency, together with the loss of nature and rising inequalities, are the greatest and most complex challenges of our time. Only by joining forces and collectively rethinking the industries, like retail, will it be possible to tackle them. Governments, investors and businesses are uniting to support a pathway to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement – the only viable way for people and planet.”

Retailers can join the Race to Zero effort by setting science-based targets, working to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and committing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest. The breakthroughs campaign helps retailers achieve these goals by providing sector-specific guidance and access to networks and best practices. The campaign will also work with trade association partners to drive awareness about the Race to Zero, share tools, resources and accelerate the adoption of net-zero roadmaps.

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