Walmart targeting zero emissions by 2040

Date : 22 September 2020

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

Walmart is targeting zero emissions across its global operations by 2040. The retailer also plans to manage or restore at least 50m acres of land and 1m square miles of ocean by 2030 to help combat the cascading loss of nature.

On the path to becoming a regenerative company

These new goals represent a raising of ambitions at Walmart as the retailer aims to play a leading role in transforming the world’s supply chains. The commitments not only aim to decarbonize its global operations, but put it on a path to becoming a regenerative company. To achieve the zero emissions goal without the use of carbon offsets, the retailer will take several actions. These include:

  • Harvesting enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035
  • Electrifying and zeroing out emissions from all of its vehicles, including long-haul trucks, by 2040
  • Transitioning to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs, and data and distribution centres by 2040
”People have pushed past the earth’s natural limits. Healthy societies, resilient economies and thriving businesses rely on nature. Our vision at Walmart is to help transform food and product supply chains to be regenerative, working in harmony with nature – to protect, restore and sustainably use our natural resources.”

Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart, Inc.

Source: Walmart

Twenty First Century Leadership

Walmart’s commitment to sustainability rose to prominence in 2005, following its central role in bringing relief to communities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A few months after the disaster, its president and CEO at the time, Lee Scott, in his speech, ‘Twenty First Century Leadership,’ set out three ambitious goals for the company; to be supplied 100% by renewable energy, to create zero waste and to sell products that sustain our resources and the environment.

Fifteen-year journey

Over the last 15 years, it has made significant progress, powering around 29% of its operations with renewable energy and diverting approximately 80% of its waste from landfills and incineration globally. In 2017 it launched Project Gigaton, an initiative to avoid a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. More than 2,300 suppliers have signed on, with 230m metric tons of avoided emissions reported to date.

Will need the support of other organisations

Despite the progress made, the retailer acknowledges that more can be done. Through a focus on becoming a regenerative company, it aims to restore, renew and replenish in addition to conserving. One of the biggest changes is planned for its transport fleet, where it plans to transition its vehicles to battery-electric, hydrogen or other zero-emission technologies at an accelerated pace and scaling charging at its facilities. However, if Walmart is to achieve this and the other targets it’s committed to, continued innovation, broader industry support and infrastructure development will all be required.

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