Target supports suppliers to set science-based emissions aims after having own goals approved

US-based retail giant Target has pledged to ensure that 80% of its suppliers set science-based emissions-reduction targets by 2023, after it was given the Science Based Targets Initiative's (SBTi) stamp of approval for its own carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) ambitions this week.

Target supports suppliers to set science-based emissions aims after having own goals approved

Target’s chairman and chief executive Brian Cornell first announced the firm's desire to set a science-based target in 2017

The retailer announced today (27 March) that it will now strive to reduce its absolute GHG emissions by 30% by 2030, against a 2017 baseline, after the target was signed off by the SBTi. The aim is aligned with a 2C trajectory and will apply to all of Target’s direct emission sources, as well as those indirectly generated through generating the power it sources and through other “indirect” factors such as shipping.

The installation of energy-efficient LED lighting across all Target stores will play a key role in meeting these aims, the retailer has claimed.

In order to encourage its suppliers to set equally ambitious emissions goals, Target has additionally pledged to support its suppliers for all departments and all tiers to set science-based targets by 2023 – a deadline by which the retailer claims around eight in ten suppliers will have achieved the green light from the SBTi.

Specifically, the firm will help suppliers to source renewable power, through either onsite arrays or via power purchase agreements (PPA). Target will also expand its ‘Clean By Design’ initiative, which encourages suppliers throughout the garment industry to redesign products in a way which spurs transitions away from high-carbon, resource-intensive and water-intensive processes, and bolster its Vietnam Improvement Programme to slash energy and water use in Vietnamese factories.

“Our new climate goals will reduce our carbon footprint from source to shelf, as we work alongside our partners within our supply chain to lower emissions and help create a better tomorrow,” Target’s chairman and chief executive Brian Cornell said.

“We have a responsibility to our guests and to the environment to set high expectations and encourage ambitious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, promoting positive change throughout the industry. This will have an even greater impact for generations to come.”

The move by Target is timely. Research from CDP recently revealed that emissions in the supply chain across all sectors are, on average, around four times greater than those from a company’s direct emissions. This figure rises to up to seven times greater for retailers and other consumer-facing companies.

Low-carbon leadership

Target’s new commitments build on its 2017 pledge to reduce its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 25% by 2025, against a 2015 baseline – an aim Cornell said it had set “with the SBTi in mind”.

Since setting this initial ambition, the retailer, which operates more than 1,840 stores, has pledged to source 100% renewable electricity “in the coming years”. A goal is in place to have 500 buildings fitted with solar panels by 2020; 436 projects have so far been completed, while Target also imports enough renewable power from a 211MW wind farm in Texas to power 60 stores.

Target has also recently joined CDP’s supply chain initiative, which requires signatories to scrutinise their suppliers in a bid to reduce their overall carbon emissions and water footprints while minimising risks of deforestation and other degradation. Other pledge signatories include the likes of Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Philips Lighting and Tesco, the latter of which is currently striving to meet a 1.5C science-based target.

Sarah George

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