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The impact of climate change affect all of us and the scientific evidence is clear - urgent action is needed by everyone.

Every human activity has a carbon footprint. We all need to cut emissions to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. No company can hope to prosper in a world where we continue to plunder resources and pump CO2 into the atmosphere at the rate we are today. And there are practical considerations for our business: energy costs, the availability of raw materials, new markets and new legislation. 

Commitments and targets

When we launched Plan A back in 2007 we made the commitment to have carbon neutral operations by 2012, which was achieved and later extended to include all M&S operations worldwide in 2014. We also committed to an independently approved science-based target in 2017 to further reduce gross emission from our operations as well as cutting 13.3m tonnes of CO2e from our wider value chain. In 2020, we announced our strategic ambition to become net zero across all of our operations by 2035, then for scope 3 emissions by 2040, as part of the BRC's Climate Action Roadmap. We are developing our targets and delivery roadmap to achieve this.

Approach

The gross (Location-based) emissions from M&S global operations in 2020/21 were 298,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Down 53% against the 640,000 tonnes from when we first started to measure it in 2006/07.

The 2020/21 Market-based calculation of emissions which allows deductions for renewable energy was 177,000 tonnes, down by 72% against 2006/07. Under our approved Science Based Target, designed to keep global warming well-below 2 degrees, we're aiming for further reductions of 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2035.

In addition, at M&S we go even further by offsetting those remaining emissions to give zero net emissions, known as carbon neutrality. We were the first major retailer in the world to do this. 

But we know that our carbon impact goes beyond our operations. Once our supply chains, business partners and customers activities are added to the calculation our total footprint is around 6.5 million tonnes of CO2e. To reduce these emissions we're working with a range of partnerships including WRAP's Courtald 2025 programme and Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) as well as the global Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

We report our greenhouse gas emissions annually in accordance with UK government and international corporate greenhouse gas reporting guidelines. This data is independently assured and submitted annually to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Read our 2020/21 climate performance report for more detail on how we review risks, costs and regulations associated with climate change and our actions and performance since 2007.



Our approach to climate change focuses on:

Understanding and taking action on our greenhouse gas emissions through avoidance, substitution or compensation measures
Avoiding or eliminating emissions
Our first priority is to reduce or eliminate emissions at source. This is where the most significant carbon benefits can be realised by reducing embodied impacts and improving energy efficiency. By embodied impacts we mean the resource and energy inputs in the manufacture, transportation and delivery (to the point of use) of a material, product or service – and improving energy efficiency.

Buildings 
We aim to design our buildings in ways that minimise carbon emissions and energy demand, over and above what’s required by legislation. The design and construction related activities that most influence our emissions are:

  • Location, orientation and design of our stores
  • Transportation of materials, goods and people
  • Energy sources we use to provide heating, cooling and electricity
  • Generation of waste and methods of disposal
  • Choices we make for our building and fit-out materials
Embodied carbon in materials like steel, concrete, and tiles, significantly contributes to the carbon footprint of store retrofits and construction. We aim to address the carbon hotspots we can control or influence – particularly walls, ceilings, and floors.

Energy efficiency
We try to make sure store retrofits and construction are as energy efficient as possible. We also aim to procure fixtures, fittings and equipment that meet best practice energy efficiency standards.

We believe we can make significant savings and improve performance through smarter staff engagement. 

In the UK and the ROI we achieved a 47% improvement in energy efficiency between 2020/21 and 2007.

Refrigeration

We’re committed to reducing store refrigeration gas carbon emissions by 80% by 2025 and phasing out HFC refrigerants.

In the UK and Republic of Ireland we've reduced refrigeration and air conditioning emissions by 78% since 2007. 

We’ve switched to the use of natural refrigerants instead of more damaging HFC gases in all new UK and Republic of Ireland refrigeration system installations.

Low carbon technologies

We’ve installed one of the UK’s largest single roof mounted solar panel array, at our Castle Donington distribution centre, PV solar panels at eight stores and a small number of biomass boilers.

Developing programmes to reduce supply chain emissions
Supplier programmes
We’ve developed a number of programmes to encourage our suppliers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Clothing and Home products

We participate in the UK's Sustainable Clothing Action Programme (SCAP) which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of clothing sold in the UK by 15% by 2020.  Looking forward, we have committed to Textiles 2030 and will be collaborating to reduce the aggregate GHG footprint of products sufficient to limit global warming to 1.5°C (40-50%) in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

We are a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and require our suppliers to complete the Higg Index FEM to measure and improve their environmental performance. We're also members of the CanopyStyle programme, protecting forests through our choices of fabric.

In 2020/21 all the cotton used to make M&S clothing was sustainably sourced - resulting in reduced carbon footprints.

Food products
We participate in WRAP's Courtauld 2025 programme and the Meat in a Net-Zero World Initiative. We also work with the Forest Stewardship Councul, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS).


Find out more about how we're protecting forests and reducing deforestation.

Engaging employees and customers in activities which directly or indirectly reduce emissions
Improving the sustainability of our products

Back in 2007, we were one of the first companies to encourage our customers to lower washing temperatures to 300C, saving around 40% energy per wash. We even introduced labels on our clothing with 'Think Climate – Wash at 300C'. This campaign persuaded 15% of our customers to wash at lower temperatures, saving 50,000 tonnes of CO2e a year.

In partnership with Oxfam, and building on our existing clothes recycling programme, we launched Shwopping in 2012, to encourage customers to donate an unwanted item of clothing every time they bought a new one. Through Oxfam, donated clothes are resold in one of their stores or on their website, forwarded on to those who need it in developing countries, or recycled and used to make new material (which businesses like M&S can make into new clothes). Absolutely nothing goes to landfill. Oxfam uses the money raised to help people around the world overcome poverty.
M&S Energy
In 2008, we launched M&S Energy to provide competitively priced consumer and community energy and gas. M&S Energy is now an approved green energy provider. The energy it supplies to customers is matched with renewable sources at no extra cost.

Working with others
Listening, learning, responding and working in partnership is an important part of how we do business. 

We’re working with many different organisations to take action on climate change. The Carbon Trust, WRAP, WWF, and Forum for the Future have all helped us define and measure our carbon footprint. We’re collaborating with the Forest Stewardship Council, Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Leather Working Group, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Roundtable Responsible Soy, and The Sustainability Consortium, WRAP and Canopy to improve product sustainability.