US retail giant Walmart has committed to becoming a zero emissions business by 2040 by pledging to become carbon neutral across its global operations without relying on carbon offsets.
Walmart’s zero-carbon goal will be met by powering its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035, electrifying and introducing zero-emissions vehicles for all of its fleet, including long haul trucks by 2040 and transitioning to low-impact refrigerants and cooling and heating for its stores and data and distribution centres by 2040.
“We want to play an important role in transforming the world’s supply chains to be regenerative. We face a growing crisis of climate change and nature loss and we all need to take action with urgency,” Walmart’s president and chief executive Doug McMillon said.
“For 15 years, we have been partnering to do the work and continually raising our sustainability ambitions across climate action, nature, waste and people. The commitments we’re making today not only aim to decarbonize Walmart’s global operations, they also put us on the path to becoming a regenerative company – one that works to restore, renew and replenish in addition to preserving our planet, and encourages others to do the same.”
Announced as part of Climate Week NYC, Walmart has also pledged to protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030 as part of the work of its Foundation arm.
To date, around 29% of Walmart’s operations are powered by renewable energy. With more than 90% of its total emissions come from the supply chain, Walmart is also working with suppliers through its Project Gigaton initiative to avoid a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. More than 2,300 suppliers have signed on since the project was launched in 2017. Walmart reports that a total of 230 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions have been avoided as a result.
As part of a partnership with HSBC, Walmart has developed a green finance initiative that rewards suppliers for setting, meeting or exceeding ambitious sustainability aims.
Commenting on the announcement, Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group – organisers of Climate Week NYC, said: “As the largest retail company in the world, the scale of this commitment is momentous, and sets the tone for one of the most important Climate Week’s we’ve ever run. This is exactly the level of ambition we need to see across the board. It shows that in spite of the pandemic, business commitment to tackling climate change can and will remain on the agenda – and it has to if we’re to be in with a fighting chance of securing a healthy, fair and sustainable future.
“By driving this scale of climate ambition through its supply chain, Walmart is making a big, global contribution to the transition to clean energy and transport. It won’t be easy, but given the progress we’ve seen Walmart make on renewable electricity through our RE100 program, we have no doubt it’ll achieve this.”