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J Sainsbury PLC To Become Net Zero By 2040

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Sainsbury's has today [29th January] committed to investing £1 billion over twenty years towards becoming a Net Zero business across its own operations by 2040, aligned to the highest ambitions of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and a decade ahead of the UK Government's own target.

The retailer's current carbon footprint is one million tonnes, which is a 35% absolute reduction in the last 15 years despite its space increasing by 46% over the same time frame. For the last six years Sainsbury's has been awarded an A rating for taking action on Climate Change by the CDP, the highest rating of any UK supermarket.

Sainsbury's will use the £1 billion investment to implement a programme of changes, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating.

The investment will enable the business to fulfil Scope one and Scope two emissions, putting the business on course for Net Zero a decade ahead of the UK government's deadlines.

The retailer will work with the Carbon Trust to assess emissions and set science-based targets for reduction, publicly reporting on progress every six months. The targets will align the business with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement.

Sainsbury's will work with suppliers to set their own ambitious Net Zero commitments, in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

Sainsbury's £1 billion investment will not impact net debt reduction targets. Sainsbury's continues to expect net debt to reduce by at least £300 million in 2019/20 and £750 million over a three year period.

Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury's, said:

"Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognise that living well now also means living sustainably.

"We have a duty to the communities we serve to continue to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and we are committing to reduce our own carbon emissions and become Net Zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the government's own targets, because 2050 isn't soon enough.

"We have a strong heritage of reducing our carbon emissions - we have reduced them by 35% over the past fifteen years despite the footprint of our business increasing by over 40%. We invested £260 million in over 3,000 initiatives over the last decade, including the start of our LED lighting programme and refrigeration. Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1 billion in programmes that will transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make.

"We recognise that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the changes needed to help the planet exist sustainably. We have over 27 million customers each week and almost 180,000 colleagues and we hope that we can collaborate across industries and sectors to help create momentum and drive meaningful change. Only when the trajectory for global warming slows to a maximum of 1.5 degrees will we all know that we can truly live well for less now and in the future."

COP26 President-Designate Claire O'Neill said: "It's fantastic to see Sainsbury's committing to hitting net zero by 2040. It's vital that big organisations recognise the responsibility they have in curbing emissions.

"Today's announcement is an outstanding example that being green shouldn't be a barrier to success. I hope to see other major supermarkets following their lead ahead of the COP26 UN climate conference later this year in Glasgow."

Hugh Jones, MD Advisory Services of the Carbon Trust, said: "The Carbon Trust has worked with Sainsbury's to set science-based targets for its own operations and is now working to extend these targets to the value chain. Sainsbury's goal to get to Net Zero by 2040 is ambitious and will help raise the bar for the sector."

Dexter Galvin, Global Director of Corporations and Supply Chains of the CDP said: "This is a critical year in the race to tackle climate change, and it's vital that companies step up, as customers are increasingly demanding. We welcome Sainsbury's ambition to bring its operational emissions down to Net Zero by 2040, a decade ahead of the UK's climate target. The retailer has further committed to set a science-based target verified by the Science Based Targets initiative and will work with their suppliers to set their own targets aligned with the Paris Agreement. With this bold action, it's not surprising Sainsbury's has achieved a place on CDP's 2019 Climate A List. These commitments also send a clear message to politicians that businesses want more ambitious action to protect our natural world and people's quality of life as we head towards the COP26 climate summit."

Across the Sainsbury's business, programmes will be implemented that focus on seven core areas to tackle climate change:

Reduction in carbon emissions: Sainsbury's will reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions within its own operations to Net Zero, increasing the use of renewable energy

Lowering water usage: Sainsbury's will minimise the use of water in its own operations, driving towards water neutral by 2040

Use of plastic: Sainsbury's will halve plastic packaging by 2025 and then go further- the first UK supermarket to make a commitment of this scale

Recycling: Sainsbury's will increase the use of recycling in its own operations and make it easier for customers and colleagues to recycle 

Tackling food waste: Sainsbury's is committed to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030

Biodiversity: Sainsbury's will ensure that the impact of its operations is net positive for biodiversity

Source : Sainsbury's

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30 January 2020

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