Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges the world faces today. Its basic mechanics are well understood – the earth is warming, mainly due to greenhouse gas emissions generated by humans, with potentially damaging consequences. The challenge is to take effective action to address the issue.
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
We support the introduction of a strong, legally binding global agreement that will provide the long-term certainty we need in order to make major investment decisions about how best to reconfigure our business model to a low carbon one.
Climate change has always been a Plan A priority. In 2007, when we launched Plan A we had 29 targets to tackle climate change. Since then we've led the way in becoming more efficient, reducing our absolute operational carbon footprint by 70% and making our global operations carbon neutral to accelerate climate action. In 2017, we made a bold new (approved) science-based target to further the efficiency of our own operations as well as cutting 13.3m tonnes of CO2e from our wider value chain. We are committed to invest in carbon offsets for our own global operations in order to remain carbon neutral - we believe we're still the only major retailer in the world to do this.
We’re taking action on climate change across our entire value chain. Our carbon footprinting analysis has highlighted the need to focus not only on our stores and logistics, but also on reducing emissions from our supply chain and from several of the basic activities our customers use our products for, including cooking and disposal of food, and washing and drying clothes.
We need to reduce our carbon footprint by avoiding emissions in the first place, reducing those that are unavoidable, and switching to lower carbon technologies. Lastly, we also need to compensate for unavoidable or residual emissions.
It’s clear that our climate is already changing, and our business needs to be able to cope with extreme weather events. We believe forward planning is key to minimising the threats and maximising the opportunities created by evolving climate impacts.
The gross (Location-based) emissions from M&S global operations in 2017/18 were 471,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Down 36% against the 732,000 tonnes from when we first started to measure it in 2006/07.
The 2017/18 Market-based calculation of emissions which allows deductions for renewable energy was 198,000 tonnes, down by 73% against 2006/07. Under our approved Science Based Target, designed to keep global warming 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 believe we are the only 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. Under our science based target, we'll also be working with partners to reduce value-chain emissions by a total of 13.3 million tonnes by 2030.
Our approach to climate change focuses on: