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Friday, 25 September 2020: Woolworths Group has become Australia's first retailer and second ASX20 company to have its emission reduction targets endorsed by the global Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

The company has committed to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions (from its own operations) 63 per cent by 2030 from a 2015 base year. It has also committed to reduce absolute Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions (associated with its broader supply chain and waste) 19 per cent by 2030 from a 2015 base year. Carbon offsets are not counted towards SBTi targets and are not part of the emissions reduction target to 2030.

These targets have been validated by the SBTi as being consistent with the contribution Woolworths Group needs to make to align with the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees on 2015 levels. The SBTi is a collaboration between the UN Global Compact, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), CDP and the World Resources Institute, designed to drive corporate climate action and independently assess emission targets.  

A number of programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are underway across the Group and have already lowered emissions by 24 per cent on 2015 levels, putting the business in good stead to meet its future targets.

Woolworths Group Head of Sustainability Governance, Fiona Walmsley said: “We’ve made good progress in reducing our emissions by almost a quarter over the past five years, with the rollout of solar and energy efficiency programs.

“We’re clear we have a long way to go and will continue our transition to a less energy intensive operation and cleaner energy mix. This endorsement of our science-based reduction targets demonstrates we’re on the right track to make a meaningful contribution to the collective effort to tackle climate change over the next decade and beyond. 

“Reducing our emissions is not just the right thing to do for our environment and local communities, but also good business practice, which more and more of our customers, team members and shareholders want to see.”

CEO of WWF Australia, Dermot O’Gorman said: “We’re delighted to see our partner Woolworths leading the way in emissions reductions throughout its business and supply chain. I think we will see many other great Australian companies follow in raising their own climate ambitions and set science-based targets. 

“COVID19 is accelerating Australia’s transition to a low-carbon economy. It gives confidence to policymakers that such ambitious targets can be achieved, as we must ramp up our collective efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Woolworths Group has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050. The majority of Woolworths’ carbon emissions stem from its store operations, particularly refrigeration, with electricity consumption accounting for the greatest share. Over the next decade, the Woolworths Group will seek new opportunities to reduce emissions and enhance energy efficiency, in addition to the following existing initiatives:

  • More than 120 of the Group’s stores and two distribution centres are generating energy from solar panels. The Group’s network of solar panels generated 16,466 megawatt hours in FY20 - equivalent to more than 2,600 Australian households’ annual energy consumption.* 
  • Replacing traditional lighting with LED has already lowered store energy consumption by 11 per cent on average across 820 sites, with more to be converted in the years ahead.
  • Investing in improved refrigeration systems, with those upgrades reducing carbon emissions and refrigeration leakage to 26 per cent below 2015 levels. 

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* Based on 6.3 megawatt hours per year per household drawn from ABS Household Energy Consumption Survey - 2012.

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