John Lewis Partnership targets ‘net-zero’ operational carbon emissions by 2050

The retailer has additionally pledged to create a zero-emission fleet by 2045

In a first step towards the commitment, which the retailer claims is aligned with the 1.5C trajectory outlined in the Paris Agreement, John Lewis Partnership has set an interim aim of cutting its operational carbon footprint by one-third by 2028.

This initial reduction will be achieved through a string of investments into low-carbon technologies such as biomethane trucks, electric vans and energy-efficient fridges, as well as the sourcing of more clean power through onsite arrays and power purchase agreements (PPAs). Overall, John Lewis Partnership is targeting 100% British-generated renewable electricity for its stores, offices, distribution centres and other UK facilities within the next nine years.

These short-term moves are collectively predicted to mitigate the emissions equivalent of those produced by 16,000 petrol cars annually.

Looking to the long-term, the retailer has unveiled 2028 targets of reducing its energy use by 25% against a 2010 baseline, phasing out all hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from its core refrigeration and cooling systems and developing all new stores in line with BREEAM building standards.

These pledges are compounded by a commitment to achieve a carbon-neutral transport fleet by 2045, without the use of carbon offsetting schemes. John Lewis Partnership operates more than 3,200 fleet vehicles, of which all remaining petrol, diesel and hybrid models will be switched with biomethane-powered or fully electric alternatives.

In order to engage staff and consumers with its low-carbon mobility ambition, the company will additionally roll out electric vehicle (EV) charging points across its UK estate and bolster the capacity of its existing 75 chargepoints.

John Lewis Partnership’s director of corporate responsibility Benet Northcote said the sweeping array of pledges had been developed by the firm in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report, which states that global carbon emissions must hit zero by 2050 if a temperature rise of more than 1.5C is to be avoided.

“We recognise that urgent action is needed to keep global warming below 1.5C to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate breakdown and we are responding with our most ambitious set of targets yet, aiming to decarbonise as much as we can in the next ten years and setting out a clear path to becoming a net-zero operation,” Northcote said.

“It’s of paramount importance to us as a co-owned business to ensure the Partnership is prepared for the future.”

Low-carbon leadership

The new commitments build on John Lewis Partnership’s existing array of low-carbon activities, which have seen the retailer reduce its operational carbon footprint by 70% against a 2010 baseline.

They were welcomed by the likes of the Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho and Energy Minister Claire Perry, who praised John Lewis Partnership for “playing an impressive role” in the fight against climate change.

“Building on their pledge from Green GB Week, it’s fantastic to see the work that’s being done to reduce emissions from shops and buildings,” Perry said. “This all goes to show how the UK is leading the world in cutting emissions while growing our economy, with clean growth driving amazing innovation and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Molho, meanwhile, used the opportunity to call on the UK Government to follow John Lewis Partnership’s example and develop an equally “ambitious and coherent approach to eliminating carbon emissions”. Ministers have previously signalled a desire to develop policies which will foster a transition to net-zero and are waiting for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to publish its advice on how this can best be achieved.

Looking to the future, Northcote said the firm would soon begin to bolster its carbon reduction ambitions for its indirect (Scope 3) emissions. It already requests information regarding carbon and greenhouse gases (GHGs), as well as biodiversity, waste and energy, from all suppliers involved in its fresh produce, livestock and seafood supply chains.

Sarah George

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