Tesco has launched a new climate change “manifesto” ahead of this year’s crucial COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow.
The retailer has identified five key areas of focus where it can make the most difference, including cutting absolute emissions from energy, supporting the UK’s transition to electric transport, tackling food waste, supporting the sustainable production of food, and helping customers eat healthy, sustainable diets.
Setting out Tesco’s priorities at The Grocer Conference today, Tesco CEO, Ken Murphy stressed the need for both efficiency improvements and cutting-edge innovation if the retailer, and the wider food industry, is to meet its climate change targets. In 2017, Tesco committed to science-based climate targets on a 1.5-degree trajectory and aims to reach its net zero climate target in the UK by 2035, fifteen years earlier than originally planned.
Through a combination of efficiency improvements and switch to low-carbon innovation, Tesco delivered a 50% absolute emissions reduction last year on a 2015 baseline, beating its 2020 science-based target of 35%.
Speaking at The Grocer Conference, Tesco Group CEO, Ken Murphy called on the whole of the food industry to play its part to deliver against the UK’s climate ambitions:
“In this critical decade for tackling climate change, it’s vital we challenge ourselves to be more ambitious in our aims and accelerate progress against them. At Tesco, we’re playing our part by creating a better basket for our customers and the planet.
“No one business can tackle these challenges alone. We must take collective action as a food industry to drive the transformational changes necessary to meet the UK’s climate commitments.”
In 2018, Tesco launched a ground-breaking partnership with WWF to halve the environmental impact of food, and tackle some of the biggest issues connected to food production, including climate change.
Commenting on Tesco’s climate change commitments, Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF said:
“Our global food and farming systems are a major cause of nature’s decline. Retailers and their supply chains have a critical role to play in tackling the climate crisis by reducing emissions and ensuring the food on our plates doesn’t drive nature loss at home and overseas.
If we are to safeguard our future and limit warming to 1.5 degrees, we must transform the way we produce and consume food. This new manifesto from Tesco, outlining the actions it is taking to address these systemic issues, is a positive step towards the UK’s transition to a net-zero future.”
Tesco has vowed to continue its work to reduce emissions in its own operations, including:
- Switching to renewable energy across all its operations by 2030. It already uses 100% renewable electricity in the UK and Europe;
- Partnering with renewable energy investors to launch new renewable power generation projects and creating new offsite UK solar and wind farms.
- Launching its first fleet of 30 electric home delivery vans, switching to a fully electric delivery fleet by 2028.
To support the wider adoption of electric vehicles across the nation, Tesco is also rolling out 2,400 charging points for customers across 600 stores, with 400 stores already fitted with the chargers. By the time the programme has concluded, Tesco will have boosted the UK’s electric charging network by 14%.
Tesco set science-based targets for its supply chain in 2017, based on a 2-degree trajectory. The retailer’s manufacturing suppliers have already made progress, reporting a 12% reduction in emissions for 2019/20, exceeding a target of 7%. The retailer is now working with suppliers to trial and scale technologies targeting the biggest causes of agriculture emissions, such as low carbon fertiliser, methane-reducing feed, and alternative feeds such as insect protein.