REI commits to halve emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by end of 2020

REI has taken a measure-offset-reduce approach to emissions

The business first committed to becoming carbon-neutral by the end of 2020 14 years ago and, since then, has invested in making its buildings more energy-efficient, installing on-site solar arrays and, most recently, offsetting through Climate Neutral.

It revealed in a blog post earlier this week that it is on track to meet this commitment and has, therefore, developed longer-term targets which will prioritise reductions in CO2e over offsetting. The company has pledged to cut its emissions across all scopes by 55% over the next decade and claims it will need to “re-examine every aspect” of its work to meet this target – largely because it expects to grow within this timeframe.

Aside from furthering energy efficiency and renewable energy generation schemes, REI Co-op will source greater quantities of recycled materials for products and packaging; eliminate “unnecessary” packaging and invest in technologies which make manufacturing more resource and energy-efficient. It will also engage with the third-party brands it stocks to encourage them to take similar actions. Given that it stocks more than 1,000 brands, it hopes that this commitment will create a ripple effect.

REI Co-op will not entirely stop the use of offsetting but hopes the new commitment will reduce the amount of CO2e it will need to account for in this way, from 250,000 tonnes in 2020. It will also explore expansions to its insetting schemes. It has invested more than $100m in outdoor spaces that sequester carbon to date. A new partnership with the 1Trillion Trees campaign will help to accelerate tree planting across the firm’s supply chains and in the communities where it operates, including Seattle, where its HQ is located.

“Halving our carbon footprint is an audacious goal that will require all of us to buy in,” REI Co-op’s chief executive officer and president Eric Artz wrote in his blog.

“As individuals and as a member-owned co-op, we can, and must, collectively make a difference in the long-term health of the planet.”

Cutting carbon 

With 2020 marking the deadline for many corporate climate targets, several businesses have updated their carbon goals this year. 

Among them is Nespresso, which has been certified as carbon neutral across Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions since 2017. The coffee giant will now engage with suppliers to tackle Scope 3 (indirect) emissions and seek to deliver more insetting and internal emissions reductions, so it can purchase fewer offsets. 

Elsewhere, 2040 targets have been set by the likes of RWE and Volvo Cars, while Conde Nast, Liberty House and Sky have 2030 deadlines. 

Recent research Data-Driven EnviroLab and the NewClimate Institute revealed that 1,541 businesses globally have set net-zero or carbon neutral targets of some kind, up from 500 in December 2019. A separate analysis from YouGov last year found that more than half of businesses in the UK would like to reach this milestone by 2030. 

Sarah George

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