UK supermarket giant Tesco is not exactly popular with the deeper green environmentalist crowd. In fact, when they planned on opening one of their Tesco Express convenience stores in my hometown of Bristol, it literally resulted in riots.
But while there’s legitimate concern around the oversized power that Tesco wields to transform our high streets, it’s hard to deny that the company has also made some substantial and important commitments to sustainability. Whether it’s tackling food waste, deploying electric vans for deliveries or housing employees on the roofs of its stores, many of its initiatives reach beyond the ubiquitous promotion of reusable bags or selling organic produce.
Now Business Green reports that the company is making a firm, long-term commitment to the fight against climate change. Specifically, that commitment includes a promise to slash its own operational greenhouse emissions 60% by 2025, and by 100% by 2050. It has also promised to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. In the process, it became the first UK supermarket to have its climate change plans approved by the Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative.
Of course, even with these impressive goals, much remains to be done. As WWF’s head of climate and energy, Gareth Redmond-King, notes in the Business Green article, Tesco is a major retailer of gasoline and diesel due to the gas (petrol!) stations it runs at its stores. And a related commitment to slash supply chain emissions by only 17% by 2030 is not nearly as impressive as its own operational emissions targets.
To be fair though, the easiest impact that any company can have is taking on its own operational emissions first. Hopefully, doing so will result in broader and more ambitious efforts to transform supply chains further down the line. From supporting restorative agriculture to taking on plastic waste, the real power of retailers lies in—gasp—what they choose to retail.
I hope these impressive commitments are a sign of even bigger things to come.