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Climate Action Roadmap

Climate Action Roadmap

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For the retail industry

Roadmap milestones

The following milestones indicate good practice measures that will help the industry to reach net zero:

By 2025

By 2030

By 2035

By 2040

> Reporting by retailers on their progress to tackle supply chain deforestation. 

> Support for regenerative agriculture and greenhouse gas mitigation on farms 

> Programmes with suppliers to accelerate their decarbonisation activities

> Zero deforestation from major commodities (beef and leather, cocoa, palm oil, timber*, pulp* and paper*, rubber, soy) 

> Sustainable design principles embedded for raw material and product specifications 

> Supply chain food waste halved 

* - sourced from sustainably managed forests

> Circular feedstocks widely used 

> Deep decarbonisation in key raw material production and processing  

> Carbon dioxide removals projects implemented and delivering verifiable results  


> Net zero agricultural production from UK farms, in line with NFU commitment  


Short-term priorities 

The following six recommendations in the Roadmap are intended as an ‘on-ramp’ for retailers considering greenhouse gas mitigation in raw materials.

1.   Develop comprehensive deforestation and conversion-free policies 

Adopt best practice in implementing deforestation policies, such as: include all significant uses of commodity in products and supply chain; develop a roadmap to transition to physically segregated supply, where possible.  Advice on corporate best practice can be sought from UK commodity roundtables and initiatives identified in the section above. Use Accountability Framework Initiative definitions to inform policy development.

2.   Be transparent and report on commodity usage and sustainability

Quantify and report on commodity usage and percentage of commodity that is zero deforestation. Use industry reporting guidelines to ensure consistency with others in the sector – for instance the new soy Reporting Guidelines from the Retail Soy Group. Include deforestation-related greenhouse emissions within corporate climate targets and report emissions using forthcoming land sector guidance from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

3.   Participate in commodity-specific initiatives to drive sector change

Engage with relevant commodity initiatives to drive change at sectoral and jurisdictional levels (see summary above). Tackling deforestation cannot be achieved by individual businesses – whole sectors must align to demonstrate demand for sustainably produced raw materials. By working together, initiatives can also advocate for improvements to standards and certification.

Case Study: Retail Soy Group 

The Retail Soy Group seeks to support the development of a market where sustainable soy is the norm. The Retail Soy Group (RSG) was formed in 2013 to address a sector-wide gap in addressing demand for sustainably produced soya. It is an independent group of international retailers working collaboratively to find industry-wide solutions for soy for their animal feed and human food supply chains. The focus of the group is to 1) identify and support ‘clean’ suppliers 2) Implement regional approaches to address biome-level solutions 3) Enhance the credibility of certification standards and 4) Create more transparent supply chains. 

To support the last aim, the RSG members have agreed to publicly report on their soy footprint as a way of demonstrating their progress towards the group’s aims. They have developed public reporting guidelines that lay out a set of standardised metrics that RSG members can use to publicly disclose their soy footprint in a way that is consistent with other members. These reporting guidelines are not mandatory, and merely seek to ensure the consistency of metrics that retailers share if they decide to publicly disclose their information. 

The metrics laid out cover the recommendations for retail disclosure laid down by the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI). The definition for deforestation-free within the guidelines is in line with the AFI definition, covering both deforestation and land conversion.

4.   Encourage strategic suppliers to adopt climate commitments and actions

Retailers should act as a positive influence on suppliers and seek to encourage other businesses to develop ‘net zero’ and ‘deforestation and conversion-free’ commitments. This can be done through joint business plans with strategic suppliers or by including climate policies within procurement processes. As part of these commitments, retailers can seek to encourage suppliers to purchase renewable energy (for example through the RE100 initiative) and undertake joint projects on food waste prevention (for example by adopting the recommendations in WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap).

5.   Work with UK farmer and grower groups on climate mitigation

In categories where retailers have aligned supply chains, they should work with suppliers to develop programmes that support farm productivity improvements, reduce food waste, and encourage low carbon farming practices.

Case Study: Co-op’s work with British farmers 

The Co-op is committed to reducing GHG emissions in line with a science-based target to limit global warming. In the short term they are aiming to cut our product-related emissions by 11% from 2016 to 2025. Supporting farmers to make British meat and dairy better for the world is one of the best things we can do to achieve that. 

Co-op launched the 'Enviromap' programme in 2016. At its heart it is an environmental impact measurement tool for our farming groups, backed up by expert and peer-to-peer support. 

The scheme involves hundreds of assessments each year, either self-assessed and then validated online, or completed in person with the support of professional auditors. 

Farmers can benchmark themselves against one another, with detailed information on what factors add up to affect productivity, biodiversity and carbon footprint. 

Co-op shares these learnings in local groups to discuss opportunities for improvement and what works 'on the ground' for peers working in a similar area and farming practice. 

For Co-op’s farmers, it means less waste, more productivity, and a set of practical actions to improve environmental impact. For the Co-op it means they can help to support British farmers, deliver on commitments to reduce their total carbon footprint, and track the impact of their agriculture supply chain over time.

6.   Adopt circular economy principles to reduce material use and waste

According to analysis by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy could reduce annual global greenhouse gas emissions from key industry materials by 40% or 3.7 billion tonnes in 2050.[114] The key approaches include: designing out waste, reusing products and components; and recirculating materials. At the moment the global economy is only 8.6% circular – and retailers can play a key role in developing supporting new circular business models and products that can support the Paris Agreement.[115]

Longer term transformation for net zero

1.   Drive demand for zero carbon materials

Given their influence over product specification and design, retailers should seek to drive demand for emerging low or zero carbon materials through product development and by partnering with materials manufacturing companies – for example, through the inclusion of ‘zero carbon’ metals in products and packaging. There are several new private-sector led initiatives that are seeking to build supply of these materials – for example pilot production of zero carbon steel in Sweden and zero carbon aluminium technology in Canada

2.   Identify opportunities to support carbon dioxide removal projects

It is anticipated that some degree of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) will be required to compensate for emissions in sectors that are hard to decarbonise.[116] Retailers should explore opportunities to support nature-based climate mitigation in their supply chains and through credible market-based emissions reduction schemes such as the Woodland Carbon Code.

[114] Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2019) Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change
[115] The Circularity Gap Report 2020
[116] UNEP (2019) Emissions Gap Report and Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering review of ‘Greenhouse gas removals’ for the Committee on Climate Change.