The retail industry requires the following governmental support in achieving emissions reductions:
1) Develop consistent carbon accounting and greenhouse gas pricing frameworks
Many companies and retailers are already comprehensively measuring and tracking greenhouse gas emissions. However, businesses are still encountering challenges, particularly in relation to the high portion of footprints that are scope 3 emissions. The Government should work with retailers and companies across the UK (and globally) to develop consistent frameworks to harmonise and accelerate full scope greenhouse gas measurements, and in turn send clear signals on the role of carbon pricing to accelerate the necessary decarbonisation journey.
2) Provide clear policy direction and support for carbon removals
Carbon offsets will play a key role in achieving corporate and national net zero emissions targets, however there are still many uncertainties and difficulties in selecting genuine removals projects – as laid out in Section 4.1. The Government should aim to provide clear policy direction and classification of high quality offsets, as well as support for development of new and existing offsetting programmes. The New Climate Institute has recently published guidance for CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) support, including the following recommendations:
1) Support biological CDR options (afforestation, reforestation, biochar and soil carbon sequestration) through domestic, regulation-based policies.
2) Provide long term, secure support for the research and development stage of CDR technologies by targeting various CDR options individually (BECCS, DACCS, enhanced weathering and mineral carbonation).
3) Develop stable, predictable, efficient and large support mechanisms for CDR when technologies are mature.
3) Apply international pressure for climate action
Given the scale of the UK’s imported emissions, as well as the benefits it has received from its historic contributions to atmospheric carbon levels, the UK has a responsibility to lead climate action internationally. The Government should apply international pressure for climate action, by not only leading by example but also coordinating and supporting international efforts for ambitious climate action. The UK Government has a rare opportunity to do so, as chair of the UN’s 26th Conference of Parties in Glasgow (now postponed to 2021). This will also aid retailers in reducing emissions related to imported goods and services.