WWF report spurs supermarkets to accelerate climate action with suppliers

Five major UK food retailers have pledged to accelerate climate action across their supply chains, after a new WWF report found that value chains account for up to 90% of greenhouse gas emissions. from supermarkets.

a Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have agreed to accelerate action on climate, deforestation and agriculture in a bid to halve the sector’s environmental impact by 2030.

WWF report published today, What awaits the planet: the impact of the UK shopping basket on climate and nature 2022highlights a long way to go for the retail sector to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets.

It stands as the most comprehensive picture of the environmental impacts associated with the food retail sector to date and puts retailer action on climate and nature in the spotlight one year after the 2021 climate commitments made by retailers at COP26.

The report contains data in seven key areas: climate, deforestation and habitat conversion, agriculture, marine, diets, food waste and packaging.

With data provided by nine of the UK’s top 11 supermarkets, the report covers 80% of the sector and WWF will assess progress on an annual basis.

While there are areas where supermarkets have already shown clear progress, such as reducing packaging and waste, WWF warns there is still an urgent need for accelerated action from the sector as a whole and further support from the UK government. .

The report looks at the level of ambition needed to halve the impact of the food retail sector on climate change and nature.

As well as providing data on emissions, it shows that while 62% of the palm oil found in supermarket products such as margarine and cakes, and which comes mainly from Asia, is reported as free from deforestation and conversion, only 6% of soy is found in products such as animal feed. in chicken and pork and sourced mainly from South America, it is certified as ‘verified deforestation free’.

WWF’s Living Planet Report 2022, published in October, found that wildlife populations around the world have plummeted by 69% on average since 1970.

The data from Latin America is even more compelling, with a 94% reduction in wildlife populations and the forest home of species such as the jaguar under serious threat from conversion to agricultural land.

WWF says urgent action is needed from both the UK government and the food retail sector, including removing deforestation from food production.

In response to the report, the chief executives of Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose today announced that they will step up their work to tackle climate change next year and:

  • support its suppliers to adopt science-based targets to achieve net-zero climate emissions by 2050
  • work with WRAP to help their suppliers set these goals, take high-impact action, and report data
  • work with WRAP to develop and deliver an ambitious climate action program for the grocery retail sector, focusing on high-impact actions to halve its climate emissions, by 2030

“Nature is in free fall and we know that 60% of global biodiversity loss and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the food system,” said Tanya Steele, WWF Executive Director. “This report gives us the benchmarks to paint a picture of the environmental impact of much of the UK food retail sector.

“You can only change what you can measure, so we appreciate the transparency of the supermarkets that shared their environmental data with WWF.

“Shoppers want to know that their purchases are not contributing to the destruction of our planet, so we urge other supermarkets to join the five that have committed to our goal of halving the environmental impact of our food purchases for 2030.

“But beyond words and commitments, we need action to reduce deforestation, nature loss and climate change, from both the retail sector and government. Food must be an intergovernmental priority, and also a global one. Sustainable food systems must be at the center of future negotiations on climate change and biodiversity.”

In a joint statement, Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO of Co-op Group, Stuart Machin, CEO of M&S, Simon Roberts, CEO of Sainsbury, Ken Murphy, CEO of Tesco and James Bailey, CEO of Waitrose, they said: “WWF’s findings leave no room for doubt”. of the scale of the task we collectively agree to undertake when it comes to improving our food supply chains and enabling a sustainable shopping experience for our customers.

‘We reaffirm our commitment to work with WWF, our customers, suppliers and the UK government to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets by 2030. We believe this target is achievable and vital to the future of nature, our planet, our businesses and, most importantly, our customers.’

As part of the acceleration of climate action announced today, supermarkets are working with WWF and climate action NGO WRAP through the Courtauld 2030 framework to set targets and help their suppliers set targets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse.

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