John Lewis Partnership pledges net zero carbon emissions by 2050

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The John Lewis Partnership has announced it will reduce its operational greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 at the latest, without purchasing offsets, in line with the pathway set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The Partnership will initially focus on making significant emissions reductions in the vital period of the next ten years to decarbonise its operations as much as possible as quickly as possible. By 2028, it will remove a third of carbon from its operations through a significant investment in new refrigeration technology, biomethane-powered trucks, electric vans and renewable electricity. This is expected to result in CO2 savings equivalent to removing 16,000 petrol cars off the road every year.

The new targets build on significant emissions reductions already achieved, including a 70% reduction in emissions achieved last year against a 2010 baseline – two years before the 2020 deadline the company had set itself.

Zero carbon transport fleet

To reduce transport emissions, which contribute over 40% of its overall carbon footprint, the Partnership has set an ambitious target of zero carbon fleet by 2045. It has already started rolling out new biomethane-powered heavy trucks, which emit over 80% less COthan standard diesel alternatives, and aims to switch its entire fleet of over 3,200 vehicles to zero-emission vehicles. The heavy trucks will be switched to biomethane by 2028 and it has started electrifying its fleet of vans used for home deliveries.

In addition to zero-emission deliveries, the company is working on encouraging sustainable travel across the business and to its locations. It already has 75 Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points across the estate and from this year these will all offer a minimum of fast (7kW) charging.

Reducing emissions from shops and buildings

To reduce emissions from its physical estate, the Partnership has committed to reducing its energy use by a quarter and ensuring electricity across all its sites will be 100% renewable and British-sourced by 2028.

Over the next 10 years, it will also phase out all hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) – the greenhouse gases used in cooling systems – from its core refrigeration and switch these to HFC-free refrigerators, currently focusing on water-cooled refrigeration systems to achieve this. Waitrose & Partners has already started to introduce a new design of shelf-edge strips which uses racing car technology to make its shop refrigerators more energy efficient.

In addition, the company will continue strengthening the responsible development standards it applies to every construction project. To date, over 110 Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners shops have been certified under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) process, which benchmarks the environmental performance of buildings. This means the Partnership has the highest number of BREEAM-certified buildings of any UK retailer.

The Partnership will also be assessing emissions impact outside its operations, with the aim of setting further targets for emissions reduction in its supply chain, aligned with the goals of the Paris Accord. It already carries out assessments of its Waitrose & Partners fresh produce, livestock and farmed fish supply chains, looking at a range of aspects including water use, biodiversity and waste and energy.  The Partnership has commitments to source key raw materials sustainably and has set ambitious targets to reduce plastic waste. 

Benet Northcote, partner & director of corporate responsibility at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We recognise that urgent action is needed to keep global warming below 1.5C to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate breakdown, and we are responding with our most ambitious set of targets yet, aiming to decarbonise as much as we can in the next ten years and setting out a clear path to becoming a net zero operation. It’s of paramount importance to us as a co-owned business to ensure the Partnership is prepared for the future. We are now only one generation away from 2050 and we are committed to playing our part in transitioning to a zero carbon future.”

Claire Perry, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, said: “I’m incredibly impressed with the role John Lewis Partnership is playing in tackling the vital challenge of climate change. Building on their pledge from Green GB Week, it’s fantastic to see the work that’s being done to reduce emissions from shops and buildings by committing to reduce energy use by a quarter and ensuring electricity across all sites will be 100% renewable and British-sourced by 2028. This all goes to show how the UK is leading the world in cutting emissions while growing our economy, with clean growth driving amazing innovation and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs as part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Nick Molho, executive director of Aldersgate Group, an alliance of leaders from business, politics and civil society that drives action for a sustainable economy, said: “This announcement today from the John Lewis Partnership is a sign of true corporate leadership on the environment. It is important for two reasons. First, because it sets an ambitious objective to become carbon neutral in line with climate science. Second, because this target is backed up by a comprehensive and credible range of actions across transport, energy efficiency, renewable power and a phase out of HFCs in refrigeration units. This ambitious and coherent approach to eliminating carbon emissions is exactly the kind of approach government should be promoting to achieve net zero emissions economy-wide.”