Sainsbury’s brings forward net zero pledge to 2035 ahead of Cop26 summit

‘Climate targets matter but action to deliver them matters more,’ says CEO

Sam Hancock
Tuesday 26 October 2021 00:01 BST
Related video: Boris Johnson admits to doubts about success of Cop26 climate summit
Leer en Español

Sainsbury’s has issued a fresh commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2035 – five years earlier than it originally planned.

The supermarket giant’s pledge comes less than a week before world leaders gather in Glasgow to discuss the climate emergency.

Sainsbury’s is Cop26’s principal supermarket partner, with CEO Simon Roberts saying the move demonstrated its “willingness” to work towards the UN’s recommendation to limit global warming to 1.5C.

To achieve its new target, Sainsbury’s said it will be installing “100 per cent LED lighting” across its supermarkets by the end of this year – reducing lighting energy consumption by 70 per cent and store energy consumption by 20 per cent.

The entire Sainsbury’s estate will look to run off renewable electricity in the same time frame, with bosses committed to the long-term purchasing of “renewable energy from new wind farms and solar projects”, to lessen the chain’s reliance on fossil fuels.

It also promised to work “collaboratively” with its thousands of suppliers around the world to set their own “ambitious net-zero commitments”, with the aim of reducing its Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent come 2030 – announced earlier this year.

Sainsbury’s has cut its carbon footprint by 47 per cent over the last 17 years, despite the brand growing in space by more than 40 per cent, it added.

Despite this progress, though, the retailer said its ambitious target depends on “collaborative and transformational thinking across industry and government, and a willingness to work together and share learnings globally, so that we can all take meaningful, immediate action”.

It comes after a new report by the UN Climate Change body, which assessed all the national plans put forward to cut emissions, found the world is still on track for temperature rises of 2.7C – nowhere near what the science says needs to be done to limit rising temperatures to globally-agreed goals.

UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa urged countries to “redouble” their climate efforts or face a “destabilised world and endless suffering” as a result.

And with just six days to go before the landmark climate summit, Boris Johnson appeared to cast doubt over its aims on Monday.

Hosting schoolchildren at No 10 for a “press conference” on the climate earlier, the prime minister admitted he’s “very worried” about the event – which is seen as a landmark event for fighting the climate crisis – and conceded reaching an agreement with world leaders could be “touch and go”.

The downbeat comments represent a major shift for Mr Johnson, who has often boasted optimistically about the summit and told the UN general assembly just last month it was “easy to be green”.

Mr Roberts, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said in a statement “climate targets matter, but action to deliver them matters more”.

“I’m really proud that Sainsbury’s continues to lead the charge and encourage others to change and evolve with us for the benefit of all,” he said.

“The clock is ticking,” he added, before issuing a call-to-action for other businesses to join in “on this journey … [endeavouring] to help customers make more sustainable product choices, helping everyone eat better for themselves and for the planet”.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, echoed Mr Robert’s sentiments, calling the news “fantastic”.

“With the historic UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow just days away, it is fantastic to see a heavyweight brand like Sainsbury’s showing leadership by accelerating their plans to reach net zero emissions by 2035,” he said.

“I hope this will encourage other businesses to show the same level of ambition.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in