Ikea, Unilever and BT spearhead net-zero supply chain initiative

Ikea, Unilever, BT, Ericsson and Telia are among the founding corporate members of a new initiative designed to help multinational supply chains align with the Paris Agreement's 1.5C trajectory.

For many businesses, supply chain emissions are far greater than those attributable to operations 

For many businesses, supply chain emissions are far greater than those attributable to operations 

These members of the programme, launched today (21 September) as a spin-off to the Exponential Roadmap Initiative (ERI) and part of the pre-COP26 Race to Zero campaign, have all set pre-2050 targets to reach net-zero emissions across their operations and supply chain.

The new scheme binds the companies to bolster their long-term goals. It requires signatories to halve their supply chain emissions by 2030 – reporting annually on progress – and to make climate-related targets and performance a key part of purchasing criteria and contracts within 12 months. Signatories will share best-practice advice in a pre-competitive manner to help drive progress.

The ultimate aim of the initiative is not to ensure that a handful of businesses lead on supply chain decarbonisation, but to inspire and enable ambitions and actions across the private sector which are aligned with climate science. As such, the ERI has also launched an SME Climate Hub – a platform which will provide smaller businesses, including suppliers, with information and tools centred around lowering emissions and building resilience.

Companies signing up to the SME Climate Hub will be connected with each other and with multinational corporates including Ikea, Unilever, BT, Ericsson and Telia, enabling knowledge sharing and collaboration. They will also receive support from organisations such as the We Mean Business Coalition and the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition to research, advice and digital tools, the Hub will enable suppliers to register for government incentive schemes and to connect with providers of clean technology.

“Every business in our supply chain has the potential to be a climate leader,” Unilever’s chief supply chain officer Marc Engel said.

“Today’s launch of the 1.5° Supply Chain Leaders initiative brings additional scale and synergy to the work that many companies are doing to support value chain partners to accelerate their decarbonisation journey.”

Building blocks

Given that the average company’s supply chain emissions are estimated to be around five-and-a-half times greater than those generated by their direct operations, according to CDP, decarbonising supply chains will be crucial to achieving net-zero targets.

The corporate founding members of the ERI’s latest initiative already had strong low-carbon targets for the supply chain and are widely classed among the cohort of businesses leading on Scope 3 (indirect) emissions.

Unilever this year set a 2039 net-zero target, covering all upstream activities in the supply chain. It is supported by a million-euro Climate and Nature Fund. Ikea, meanwhile, is aiming to become ‘climate positive’ by 2030.

BT’s ambition is to become a net-zero business by 2045 – an ambition backed up by one of the world’s first set of approved 1.5C science-based targets. The telecoms giant supported the ERI’s net-zero Business Playbook earlier this month.

The launch of the ERI schemes comes on the same day that Walmart announced new goals to build on its Project Gigaton programme, designed to mitigate a gigaton of supply chain emissions by 2030. The US-based retail giant will now strive to reach net-zero by 2040, prioritising insetting over offsetting.


A masterclass in tackling indirect emissions 

Readers keen to find out more about tackling their organisation's Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, including those from the supply chain, are encouraged to watch edie's masterclass webinar on the topic. 

Hosted in association with Carbon Intelligence and now available on-demand, the session featured insight from Pukka Herbs - one of the fist businesses to develop approved 1.5C science-based targets. Watch the webinar here or read a summary of the key takeaways here


Sarah George



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