Burberry to reduce emissions by 95% through approved 1.5C science-based target

Luxury fashion giant Burberry has joined just a handful of companies in setting a science-based target aligned to the 1.5C trajectory of the Paris Agreement, after committing to reducing its operational emissions by 95% by 2022.

Burberry to reduce emissions by 95% through approved 1.5C science-based target

Burberry has already achieved carbon neutral status across the Americas region

Burberry has set the 95% reduction in its scope 1 and 2 emissions against a 2016 baseline, alongside a targeted 30% absolute reduction in scope 3 emissions by 2030 against the same baseline. The new commitments expand on an existing goal to become a carbon-neutral operation by 2022.

The company has confirmed that the goals have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and that the 95% reduction is consistent to the reductions required to limit global warming to 1.5C – the most ambitious pathway of the Paris Agreement. Burberry joins organic herbal tea producer Pukka Herbs, BT, Tesco and Carlsberg in setting a public 1.5 target.

Burberry’s vice president of corporate responsibility, Pam Batty, said: “At Burberry, we are passionate about building a more sustainable future and setting these new targets in line with the latest climate science is an important milestone for us.

“For the first time, we are setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions that apply to our extended supply chain, which is a significant addition to our already ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral in our own operational energy use by 2022. Changing the system requires collaboration, and we will be working closely with our supply chain partners to take the action needed to stay on track and achieve our goals.” 

Burberry has already achieved carbon neutral status across the Americas region, EMEIA retail stores and its UK operations. The company is also a member of the Climate Group’s RE100 initiative to encourage corporates to transition to 100% renewables; Burberry currently obtains 58% of its energy and 68% of its electricity from clean energy sources.

The company has made decent progress to reduce its market-based emissions compared to the 2016/17 year, having recorded a 43% over a two-year period.

1.5C focus

The Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) will place a renewed focus on assisting businesses in setting emissions reduction goals aligned with the 1.5C ambition of the Paris Agreement. The body published an update to its target validation criteria in April, in a bid to encourage more businesses to set ambitious carbon reduction aims in line with a 1.5C pathway. A key change is that a “well-below 2C” pathway will become a minimum requirement, up from the current 2C criteria. 

Since its formation in 2015, the SBTi has approved the carbon reduction targets of more than 160 companies, with the likes of home improvement retailer Kingfisher and sportswear brand Asics among the latest firms to have their 2C goals rubber-stamped.  

A further 350 companies have pledged to set approved targets within the next two years, including confectionary giant Hershey Company and, more recently, Best Buy. In total, more than 800 firms have publicly voiced their support for the SBTi.

“The fashion industry’s environmental impact is significant and growing,” WRI’s (one of the SBTi partners) director of private sector climate mitigation Cynthia Cummins said.

“Burberry’s ambitious science-based target demonstrates the leadership and innovation needed to succeed in a zero-carbon world. To prevent catastrophic climate change, it’s important that all major apparel and footwear brands set science-based targets and pursue comprehensive strategies to decarbonise their businesses.”

Matt Mace

Comments (3)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Upon viewing the SBTi website, I noted that the only graduate science qualification whichI could identify, was a single Natural Sciences.
    Surely the basis for any work in this area has be in the realm of the physics and chemistry involved in the whole-life of all activities.
    With so little of these sciences, this must be difficult.

    Richard Phillips

  2. Ian Byrne says:

    Richard Phillips – interesting point, but I’m not sure I would agree with you. I looked at the technical advisory board, and although many of the people don’t have a full academic record shown, most have other relevant expertise, including engineering degrees. Companies wishing to reduce their carbon emissions don’t really need to know or apply the understanding basic science – it’s mainly about good energy management, which in turn is partly engineering based, and partly behavioural science. But it’s also necessary to have other disciplines involved – you need accountants to be able to speak to the finance directors and explain why it makes good financial sense (or at worst, is not going to bankrupt the company)!

    My main criticism is that too many companies seem to rely on buying renewable energy, without fully considering additionality – ie. will that purchase lead to incremental renewable energy production (and hence an equivalent fall in fossil felled energy), or is it merely an accounting sleight of hand, so my greener supply makes everyone else’s electricity slightly browner?

  3. Richard Phillips says:

    Ian makes a valid point. The whole field of advice on energy and, by association climate, matters, seems to be very ill-defined, open to all-comers. One has only to recall the policy lines set out in June/July last year by the National Infrastructure Commission Chairman, on energy policy, again on the advice of a company in the field; the advice was utter nonsense. The area is the latest bandwagon.

    The SBTi is the core advisory body, the source of the science, not one of the advised, whom, I agree entirely, are not expected to have the top to bottom knowledge, that should be found in the advisory body, but I was surprised in its structure.

    I am persuaded that many cases of the supply of renewable energy are questionable. How many assurances of "100% renewable" can stand scrutiny? In times of low wind, is the demand always less than the available supply??? To make an argument that the overall supply in time, is sufficient, is to place reliance on fossil sources.

    I feel that there is quite a lot of snake oil lubricating the waggon wheels; follow the money!

    Richard Phillips

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