The five big supermarket chains promised to cut carbon emissions in their operations by 2030 during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow.
Leaders from Co-Op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose all said they would do their part in helping to save the environment by trimming food waste, reducing packaging and using innovative practices to eliminate harmful gases in their vehicles. And they will force themselves to do it based on science, not promises.
“As CEOs of leading UK food retailers, we recognise that a future without nature is a future without food,” CEOs from the retailers said in a joint statement. “By 2030 we need to halt the loss of nature.”
Many already have taken steps to ensure that will happen, including cutting the use of single-use plastic items, holding suppliers to higher standards and partnering with organisations such as FareShare to further sustainability efforts.
The UK has become a standard-bearer at the Summit as part of a coalition of 45 countries aimed at protecting the environment and ensuring that farmers also utilise measures that are progressive. SkyNews reports that around £3 billion will be poured into more sustainable measures to keep crops growing year-round – such as vertical farming – and can be resistant to changes in the environment.
An additional 20 countries – including the UK through a £500 million investment – said they are committed to protecting global resources, notably working to prevent deforestation.
All of this work comes as the world struggles to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, with supply chains being overwhelmed and challenged. Still, leaders at the Summit pressed the need to keep the future in sight, especially large supermarket chains
“Food production is one of the biggest threats to our planet and we will only tackle the climate and nature emergency if food retailers play their part,” World Wildlife Fund CEO Tanya Steele said. “The promises these CEOs have made are game-changing and we hope other food retailers will follow in their footsteps, so that every shopper can be confident that the products they buy aren’t fuelling the climate crisis and pushing precious wildlife closer to the brink.”
According to a report from the BBC, the food supply chain is one of the worst offenders when it comes to environmental impact, with its emissions ravaging natural habitats more than the commercial airline industry.
“Consumers are increasingly vocal about imported food that’s connected to deforestation overseas, and governments and companies are hearing this message,” said Matt Williams, programme lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. “These government pledges to change how they incentivise farmers, and supermarket promises to cut their impact, can serve up a result that’s good for people, nature, and the climate.”