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Supermarkets agree to join forces to speed up climate action

Five of the UK’s biggest supermarkets have agreed to join forces to speed up their work on tackling climate change with suppliers in the next year.

The pledge comes as WWF announced its goal of halving the environmental impact of food shopping by 2030 as it warned there was an “urgent need for accelerated action” from the sector and greater support from the UK Government, especially in areas such as agricultural supply chains and including removing deforestation from food production.

In response to the report, the chief executives of Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose announced they would support their suppliers to adopt science-based targets to reach net-zero climate emissions by 2050.

They have also agreed to work with Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap) charity to develop and deliver an “ambitious” climate action programme for the grocery retail sector with the aim of halving their climate emissions by 2030.

WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said: “Nature is in freefall and we know 60% of global biodiversity loss and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the food system.

“Shoppers want to know that their purchases are not contributing to the destruction of our planet, so we urge other supermarkets to join the five who have committed to our goal to halve the environmental impact of our food shopping by 2030.

“But beyond words and commitments, we need action to reduce deforestation, nature loss and climate change – both from the retail sector and government.

“Sustainable food systems must be at the heart of future negotiations on both climate change and biodiversity.”

A joint statement from the five supermarkets said: “WWF’s findings leave no doubt of the scale of the task we collectively agreed to undertake when it comes to improving our food supply chains and enabling a sustainable shopping experience for our customers.

“We restate our commitment to work with WWF, our customers, suppliers, and the UK Government to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets by 2030.

“We believe that this goal is achievable and is vital for the future of nature, our planet, our businesses and, crucially, our customers.”

Richard Swannell, Wrap’s interim chief executive, said: “We welcome this timely and important report and the leadership and commitment shown by accelerating action on climate change – where urgent action is required, and collaboration key to reducing the impact feeding people puts on the planet.

“Wrap is delighted to work with WWF and the Commitment to Nature signatories, and to scale this action in the sector through the Courtauld Commitment 2030 to support the supply chains we all rely on to set targets, measure and take action on high-impact changes.”