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UK Retail Lays Out Plan to Reach Net Zero by 2040

The British Retail Consortium strategized a Climate Action Roadmap, outlining a plan for the U.K. retail industry to reach net zero by 2040.

Twenty major retailers—including Amazon, TJX Europe, Ikea, Aldi and Lidl—came together in July to develop the roadmap. Four months later, BRC has released the plan supported by 63 companies, including AllSaints, River Island, New Look, Ted Baker, Seasalt and Superdry.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson described climate change as “a threat that none of us can afford to ignore.” As the critical gateway between international supply chains and consumers, she said retail has “a fantastic opportunity to make a real global difference if we can all work collectively.”

“The BRC Climate Action Roadmap is a clear and decisive statement that the retail industry is ready to take on this challenge—to be part of the solution,” Dickinson said in a statement. “By 2040, we want every U.K. customer to be able to be able to make purchases—in-store and online—safe in the knowledge that they are not contributing to global heating.”

The roadmap sets out five “pathways” of action: putting decarbonization at the core of all business decision-making, reducing carbon emissions from shops and distribution centers, moving to net-zero logistics operations, increasing sustainably sourced projects and helping customers and employees to live low carbon lifestyles.

Within each of these areas, the plan sets out several smaller goals. For example, the roadmap prescribes using 100 percent LED lights in all new buildings by 2025, sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and powering all sites using renewable energy by 2035.

Broadly speaking, the plan calls for the industry to meet net zero for U.K. retailers’ electricity use by 2030, for U.K. fuel, gas and refrigerant use by 2035 and, by working with industry partners, for all products sold in the U.K. by 2040.

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“In working alongside the BRC, other brands and our suppliers, this is an important opportunity for us to accelerate the progress we’ve made in our business, and fully integrate our carbon strategy across all areas at Ted Baker,” Ted Baker CEO Rachel Osborne said in a statement. “We look forward to being part of this collective push towards achieving net zero carbon emissions.”

The BRC Climate Action Roadmap arrived as U.K.-based sustainability non-profit Waste & Resources Action Program unveiled its Textiles 2030 initiative. The program aims to provide a textiles roadmap for the U.K. that keeps it on track with the BRC’s roadmap, as well as the Paris Agreement and the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. Its goals include reducing the sector’s carbon emissions by 40 percent and lowering water usage by 30 percent.

The 10-year, voluntary Textiles 2030 program—officially launching in April—aims to fill in the gaps from the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020. Introduced in 2012, that initiative met its goals of reducing carbon and water, but missed its goal of decreasing waste.