Sainsbury’s confirmed as principal partner for COP26

'Principal partner' is the highest level of sponsorship for the conference

The Government’s COP26 unit had already confirmed Sky as principal media partner and appointed a string of other commercial partners including SSE, National Grid, ScottishPower and NatWest.

To mark its addition to this cohort, Sainsbury’s has confirmed plans to replace its long-standing ‘Live Well for Less’ brand motto with the tagline ‘Helping Everyone Eat Better’. It will announce more information on related changes in the coming months but has stipulated that ‘Better’ covers planetary health as well as the wellbeing of customers and workers across the value chain.

Sainsbury’s has already outlined a commitment to become net-zero by 2040, backed by a £1bn package. It recently built on this high-level, long-term pledge with new science-based targets to reduce emissions.

The supermarket has already delivered a 42% reduction in its operational carbon footprint over the past 16 years, despite growing by 46% in this timeframe. The new science-based targets are designed to accelerate this progress and to apply key learnings to Scope 3 (indirect) emissions. Notably, the firm has pledged to cut supply chain emissions by 30% by 2030.

“Tackling climate change requires transformational thinking across industry and government and a willingness to collaborate globally,” Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts said.  

“We are delighted to partner with COP26 and hope that it inspires our colleagues, customers and other businesses to rally together to protect and restore our planet for future generations to come.”

The COP26 unit, spearheaded by Alok Sharma, has stated that it will only sign sponsorship agreements with companies with net-zero targets for 2050 at the latest and with “credible short-term plans” to support them. It has received criticism for reportedly exploring sponsorship with fossil fuel firms and other major emitters whose net-zero plans have been questioned as potential greenwashing.

Race to Zero

In related news, Japanese multinational technology giant Hitachi has joined the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign.

The campaign was set up to inspire a holistic and ambitious approach to the global net-zero transition. To date, it has garnered the support of more than 20 official partners and hundreds of individual businesses, NGOs, cities and national governments.

Hitachi is notably working with one of the campaign’s official partners, the We Mean Business Coalition’s Business Ambition for 1.5C, to deliver its long-term environmental targets. It is aiming to achieve carbon-neutral factories and offices by the end of the 2030 fiscal year, and to reduce emissions across the entire value chain by 80% by 2050, against a 2020 baseline. Hitachi claims that these targets are aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory.

Hitachi’s chief environmental officer Alistair Dormer said: “We have an environmental vision to pass on a prosperous planet to future generations. To achieve our vision, we know that all of society needs to be low carbon, resource-efficient and harmonized with nature. As countries and businesses across the world build-up to COP26, we are proud to be joining the UN Race to Zero campaign.”

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Sarah George

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