Countdown has today become the first food retailer in New Zealand to have its emission reduction goals endorsed by the independent, UN-backed body, Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Countdown aims to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 63 per cent by 2030 from a 2015 base year, and reduce its Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions (broader supply chain and waste) by 19 per cent by 2030 from a 2015 base year.
The Science Based Targets Initiative is an independent global body formed by the United Nations, CDP, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Countdown’s New Zealand targets have been validated as being consistent with the contribution Countdown and the wider Woolworths Group needs to make to align with the Paris Agreement’s ambitious goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees on 2015 levels.
Importantly, carbon offsets are not counted towards SBTi targets and are not part of Countdown’s emissions reduction target to 2030.
The announcement comes as Countdown releases its 2020 Sustainability Report, which details progress and achievements at the end of its three-year sustainability strategy set in 2017.
This includes exceeding its 2020 target to reduce its carbon emissions by 10 per cent below 2015 levels - Countdown reduced total carbon emissions by almost 28% per cent below 2015 levels.
Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, Kiri Hannfin said the business is excited to be leading the way for food retailers and other Kiwi businesses when it comes to emission reductions.
“We’re incredibly serious about reducing our carbon emissions. To have our new emissions targets endorsed by SBTi is a huge vote of confidence in the plan we have laid out to make a meaningful contribution to reducing global emissions,” said Hannifin.
“COVID-19 has shown us just how quickly our global food supply can be restricted. More than ever, we need to look at how we can increase our self-sufficiency and produce the food we need to feed Aotearoa’s population in the years to come. A huge part of that is protecting our environment and reducing our emissions.
“Our planet is fragile and climate change is a very real and present threat. There’s no time for complacency. We’re realistic about the work it will take to meet our 2030 emissions reduction targets and get to a net zero emissions target by 2050, but we are fiercely determined to meet each of them.”
Countdown has worked over the last financial year to identify the best opportunities it has to meet the 2030 targets. These include:
Transitioning towards very low greenhouse gas refrigerant emissions systems
Accelerating energy efficiency retrofits in its stores, which includes installing LEDs and improving air conditioning systems
Providing real-time store energy performance information to our team, helping them maintain lower energy use and address any increases
This research and emissions data is included in Countdown’s 2020 Sustainability report, which ends the company’s’ three year 2020 Sustainability Commitments, and provides an ‘achieved’, ‘materially progressed’ or ‘progressed’ final mark against the 20 commitments it set in 2017.
Among the most significant achievements are closing the salary wage gap between male and female team of equal positions, achieving and maintaining Rainbow Tick accreditation, continuing to support suppliers and food rescue partners, investing in local communities, and Countdown’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has, without a doubt, been the most significant health and safety challenge our business has ever faced. This year’s report demonstrates the huge role that our team of 20,000 Kiwis has played in rising to meet that challenge."
“We owe it to each of them to continue to be a business they are proud to work for and to play our part in protecting Aotearoa’s environment for them, their families and future generations.”
Countdown’s 2020 Sustainability Report can be viewed here: https://www.countdown.co.nz/media/1555558/countdown-nz-csr-2020.pdf