Initiative coordinated by the British Retail Consortium will see supermarkets, food chains, pharmacies and booksellers work together to develop decarbonisation strategy for retail industry ahead of the COP26 climate conference.
Twenty of the UK's largest retailers, including Boots, Aldi, Ikea, Amazon, and M&S, have pledged to collaborate on a roadmap that sets out how the industry can deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
The companies, which include supermarkets, booksellers, pharmacies, food chains, and online retailers, today set out their intent to jointly craft a "ground-breaking decarbonisation plan" for the retail industry, noting that they are "uniquely placed" to support the country's wider net zero transition.
The roadmap will cover emissions produced by shops, distribution centres, and logistics operations, the group said, as well as emissions from suppliers and those emissions incurred through the end use of products.
"By working collectively with our employees, customers, suppliers, government and other stakeholders, we are confident we can overcome the shared barriers we face to tackling climate change and help the UK lead the way towards a better society and a better planet," the signatories wrote in a joint climate statement.
They said they would work with environmental specialists to develop the plan in the run up to the postponed COP26 climate conference, which is set to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. The roadmap will be accompanied by a "wider industry commitment", they added.
Ocado, Lidl, Next, the Booksellers Association of the UK, and Greggs have also backed the initiative, which is being coordinated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Peter Andrews, the trade association's head of sustainability policy, said retail could play a pioneering role in building a more sustainable world in the wake of the pandemic. "As we start to recover from the coronavirus pandemic there is no better opportunity to build a greener more sustainable world," he said. "The expectations of society are shifting rapidly. Greater action from businesses is expected. Retail will lead the way."
The roadmap, he added, would be "the first step towards a better, more sustainable future. It will then be up to the wider industry and government to implement the recommendations it sets out."