Millions of European retailers pledge to accelerate net-zero progress

A host of European retailers have agreed to sign up to the Race to Zero accelerators initiative, in a bid to drive climate action by committing to net-zero emissions in line with the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement.


Millions of European retailers pledge to accelerate net-zero progress

Launched in 2021, the Race to Zero Breakthroughs for the retail sector is operated in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

EuroCommerce, which represents five million retail companies across 27 countries, has joined forces with the national retail associations of Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, Poland and the Netherlands in pledging to become Accelerators for the Race to Zero.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Australian Retail Association have already joined the Race to Zero Accelerator Pledge and have worked with their retail members to get 20% signed up to the Race to Zero within the next 24 months.

The retail associations will work collaboratively to get the sector acting towards efforts to reach the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement.

“In joining the campaign, we hope to encourage retailers and wholesalers to set out their plans to achieve necessary carbon reduction targets by 2030 to help limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C,” EuroCommerce’s director general Christel Delberghe said.

A recent report by EuroCommerce, with assistance from McKinsey found that the retail value chain accounts for around 40% of EU emissions. However, just 5% of these emissions come under direct (Scope 1) control for retailers and wholesalers. As such, EuroCommerce is hoping that a collaborative approach can help drive progress to net-zero.

Tipping points

Launched in 2021, the Race to Zero Breakthroughs for the retail sector is operated in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the COP26 High-Level Climate Action Champions initiative. It was originally backed by leading retailers including Best Buy, H&M Group, Ingka Group (IKEA), Kingfisher plc and Walmart and hosted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The Race to Zero Breakthroughs aims to deliver near-term “tipping points” for decarbonisation in the world’s largest and most-emitting business sectors. Aside from retail, collaborations were floated for sectors including finance, water, aviation, energy and manufacturing.

The retail initiative has been created in recognition of the fact that just 5% of retail businesses – by total global industry revenues – have committed to reducing the emissions of their value chains in line with the Paris Agreement.

Members will be encouraged to set net-zero targets by 2050 at the latest, with interim commitments to halve emissions by 2030. Such goals should be backed up by science-based targets.

Commenting on the announcement, Nigel Topping, High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26 and the UK said: “With the COP27 climate conference approaching, it is great to see momentum in the implementation of climate action through the Race to Zero Retail Campaign with EuroCommerce and national retail associations ANGED, APED, ESEE, FCD, France Commerce , POHiD, and Vakcentrum all pledging to accelerate the Race to Zero.

“I encourage all retailers and retail associations to step up climate action and join the Race to Zero.”

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