Tesco commits to net zero emissions from supply chain & products by 2050

Tesco has just strengthened its ambition to tackle climate change by setting out a new commitment of net zero emissions across its value chain by 2050, including those generated by the products it sells and across its supply chains, in line with the UN’s aspiration of keeping global warming below 1.5C.

The new commitment comes as the retailer also announces a new Group-wide net zero target of 2035 for its own operations, bringing it into line with its UK ambition.

Often referred to as Scope 3 emissions, Tesco’s 2050 commitment will cover all emissions generated across its entire value chain, including the sourcing of raw materials and food production, where emissions are generated through agriculture and manufacturing; in the use of Tesco products, including food waste; and in people’s dietary choices, where an increase in the amount of plant-based food is required to cut emissions.

Emissions from Tesco’s products and supply chain make up more than 90% of the retailer’s total emissions footprint. 100 of Tesco’s largest suppliers have already reduced manufacturing emissions by 20%. The retailer has today written to all of its suppliers to ask for their support in the transition to a low carbon economy.

Over the next 12 months, Tesco will set out a clear plan for achieving its new targets, including how it will decarbonise key emissions areas, such as agriculture, as well as an annual update on progress.

Activities include:
> Supporting all suppliers to establish a net zero ambition and set science-based targets
> Accelerating operational decarbonisation across key emissions hotspots such as refrigeration, heating and transport
> Trialling innovations with suppliers to reduce emissions from agriculture, including the use of low-carbon fertiliser and alternative animal feed such as insect meal
> Cutting emissions associated with customer’s diets, including increasing the sales of plant-based products
> Advocating for collaborative industry action and support from Government

Tesco Group CEO, Ken Murphy said, “In this critical year for tackling climate change, it’s right that we set out this ambitious commitment to cut emissions across our entire value chain. We don’t yet have all the answers and we’ll need support from our suppliers and wider society to meet our targets, but it’s vital we take action now.

“Building on the good progress we’ve made in cutting emissions in our own operations, we’re also setting out a Group-wide net zero target of 2035. These new commitments will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to our emissions footprint and will allow us to identify and tackle those areas where urgent transformational change is needed.”

Tesco Chief Product Officer, Ashwin Prasad said, “Emissions from our supply chains and the use of our products account for most of our emissions. It’s vital we continue the good work in our own operations but also drive collective action with our suppliers to achieve these new commitments.

“We’re encouraged that 100 of Tesco’s largest suppliers have already reduced manufacturing emissions by 20%, but we know we all have further to go. Which is why today I have written to all Tesco suppliers to ask for their support in the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF, commented, “The scale of this welcome commitment from Tesco creates much-needed momentum as we head into COP26 – and throws down the gauntlet to other big companies to match this ambition, and to the government to back their action through legislation to require all businesses to publish credible net zero plans.

“This announcement shows that even our biggest and most complex businesses know that if we’re going to tackle the climate and nature crisis, it can’t be done by offshoring our emissions through imports and supply chains – we need to change every part of the system.

“This promise will need to be backed by a detailed plan that is just as good, and we at WWF don’t underestimate the challenge of translating this into a roadmap to net zero that moves at sufficient pace throughout Tesco’s supply chains.

'But the payoff is worth it – for the people in countries where Tesco does business, for the UK’s net zero ambition, for nature all around the world and for the future generations who won’t forget the promises we make today, and will certainly not forgive if they’re not delivered.”