Tesco targets net-zero by 2035, accelerating climate plan

Pictured: One of Tesco's fully-electric home delivery vans

Late last week, the retailer, which is the UK’s biggest supermarket, confirmed that it is working with renewable energy investor Low Carbon to bring three new solar farms online in the UK during 2021.

It has since revealed that the move is part of a broader strategy to reach net-zero emissions for UK operations by 2035. For indirect (Scope 3) emissions from the supply chain, Tesco is targeting a 35% reduction by 2030.

Tesco had previously been targeting net-zero by 2050. It was one of the first businesses to have its climate targets approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative as 1.5C-aligned. The 2050 deadline will still apply to global operations outside of the UK.

To meet its new target in the UK, Tesco will procure 100% renewable electricity by 2030. The new solar farms will collectively generate up to 130GWh per year, so Tesco sees this move playing a sizeable role, alongside its investment in onsite generation.

The supermarket has also updated plans for decarbonising its fleet and committed to electrifying its home delivery fleet within eight years. It launched 30 fully-electric delivery vans in Greater London earlier this month to help gather feedback ahead of a wider rollout. Tesco had already committed to installing 2,400 EV charging points for customers across 600 stores in the coming years, as part of a partnership with PodPoint and Volkswagen.

Jason Tarry, Tesco UK and ROI CEO said: “In 12 months’ time, the UK will host the most critical climate change summit of the decade, known as COP26,” Tarry said. “That’s why we’ve brought forward our ambition to reach net-zero in our UK operations by 15 years.”

The announcement from Tesco comes shortly after Waitrose’s parent company John Lewis & Partners moved its net-zero deadline from 2050 to 2035.

The road to COP26

Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally kick-started the UK’s one-year countdown to COP26 last week.

In a speech delivered on Friday, he urged nations to submit updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement by the end of the year. The UK is yet to outline its own updated NDCs and is facing mounting pressure to lead by example.

Johnson also confirmed that he will unveil the entirety of his ten-point-plan for a green recovery by the end of the month. The Prime Minister unveiled the first facet of the plan, a £160m pot to support the offshore wind sector, a month ago. Its second facet – a doubling of the massively oversubscribed Green Recovery Fund for nature restoration – was confirmed to media representatives over the weekend.

The plan is also expected to detail support for hydrogen production and infrastructure; carbon capture and storage (CCS); low-carbon synthetic fuels for aviation; small modular reactors and EVs. On EVs, Johnson is expected to confirm that the UK’s ban on new petrol and diesel car sales would be brought forward from 2035 to 2030.

Several green groups are additionally hoping that the UK will develop its own national investment bank with net-zero as a core remit, as Brexit will limit access to the European Investment Bank. Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed last week that the UK will launch a sovereign green bond as part of its green recovery plans.

Sarah George

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