Retailers have an important role to play in helping their employees and customers live low carbon lifestyles. The transformations in behaviours and ways of living required to achieve low carbon lifestyles are significant and will need to be supported by concerted government action.
The retail industry requires government support to meet its net zero target in three areas:
1. Support public information on climate to drive adoption of low carbon products and lifestyles
The retail industry communicates effectively with customers and can support customers to understand the carbon impact of their decisions. Influencing behaviour change at the scale necessary to shift to lower carbon lifestyles requires consistent, UK-wide behaviour change support including campaigns reaching homes, classrooms and all media.
The retail industry asks the Government to support national customer campaigns to drive behaviours and the adoption of low carbon products and lifestyles. Government should set clear expectations for climate communication to customers including on point of sale climate information.
2. Make the UK a global leader in food innovation, driving development of low carbon products
There is potential for significant innovation to support decarbonisation of food products. There are commercial imperatives for retailers to innovate in food products – enhancing their offerings and responding to customer needs. Delivering breakthrough innovations to the UK market and the scaling of new innovations requires strengthening of the food innovation ecosystem in the UK. To succeed in this area the retail, food and agricultural industries require governments to create and support research, development and commercialisation of approaches to decarbonise food, including plant-based meat analogues, blended products, and novel proteins and fermented foods.
Enabling delivery and growth of novel foods requires an enabling regulatory environment. The retail industry asks the Government to explore opportunities to remove barriers to entry of novel foods while maintaining food safety and quality standards.
3. Drive the transition to electric vehicles
While retailers can support drivers of electric vehicles to access retail facilities (e.g. by providing recharging points), the transition from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles will be driven in large part by government action. Investing in transitioning fuel retail to electric charging in particular requires certainty in demand. Government action here is particularly important.
The retail industry asks the Government to help accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by bringing forward the end date for the sale of petrol and diesel cars, continuing fiscal incentives for customers to switch to electric vehicles, supporting the development and deployment of charging infrastructure, and implementing measures to incentivise the electrification of vehicle transport to retail areas (including city centres). Government can also support the development of appropriate planning measures to ensure new developments have adequate access to electric vehicle charging.