Room for Improvement on Retail Carbon Emissions, Says Verdantix

Retailers such as Carrefour, Costco, IKEA, Tesco and Walmart should aim for more comprehensive carbon disclosures and collaborate to define meaningful GHG emissions reduction strategies for the industry. The detailed analysis of GHG emissions by independent analyst firm Verdantix, covers grocery retailers Aeon, Carrefour, Costco, John Lewis, Metro Group, Tesco, Walmart and Whole Foods; home improvement stores IKEA and The Home Depot; drugstore chain CVS Caremark; and apparel firms H&M, LVMH and TJX Companies.

"This carbon benchmark gives the retail sector a clean bill of health for carbon disclosures relating to fuel use and electricity," stated Jordan Nadian, Verdantix analyst and author of the report. "By contrast, disclosure of scope 3 carbon emissions data on product use, procurement, logistics and waste disposal is very patchy. Asian and European retailers like Aeon, IKEA, Metro Group and Tesco are significantly ahead of US firms in disclosing data on these scope 3 emissions."

The Verdantix report "Carbon Strategy Benchmark: Retail Sector" finds that the retail sector is struggling to define and achieve carbon reduction targets. Only four retailers in the study have valid targets for absolute carbon reduction. Tesco aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. John Lewis Partnership is aiming for a 15% reduction, relative to 2010. Carrefour aims for a 40% reduction in 2020 compared to 2009 levels. The Home Depot aims to cut its scope 3 upstream transport and distribution emissions 20% in absolute terms by 2015 versus 2009. The variations in start dates, end dates and coverage of emissions sources makes comparison meaningless for investors and stakeholders.

"The retail brands in this benchmark have invested in carbon disclosures but the sector has not yet grasped the nettle of carbon reductions," stated Ross MacWhinney, Verdantix Senior Analyst and GHG accounting expert. "Retailers have made sensible investments in assurance of their sustainability disclosures with EY and KPMG the most commonly selected providers. To further improve on their carbon strategies retailers should invest in software from specialist suppliers like Elster EnergyICT, Envizi, Panoramic Power and Verisae. These platforms enable firms to develop reduction scenarios that tie back to operational data and minimize the risk of setting unachievable goals."
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