Coles has become the latest supermarket giant to set ambitious climate targets, and will soon be completely powered by renewables after adopting a new goal to purchase all of its power from sources like wind and solar.
The supermarket giant has set itself a target to procure all of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the 2025 financial year as part of a new climate change position statement adopted by the company.
In addition to the new renewable energy target, Coles has also committed to a net zero emissions target for 2050 and will set an interim goal of reducing its scope 1 and 2 emissions by more than 75 per cent by the end of 2030.
“We have already reduced Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 36.5% since 2009 and have been a leader in securing renewable energy,” Coles CEO Steven Cain said.
“Our new targets for Scope 1 and 2 emissions commit us to an accelerated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that exceed the climate change ambitions of the Paris Agreement and will help sustain Australia for generations to come by working together with our customers, suppliers and members of the community.”
The commitments have been welcomed by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, which has been working to encourage large corporate energy users to source their power needs from renewable sources.
“Emissions are down, down, down as Coles shifts away from coals, and towards 100 per cent renewable electricity. Coles making the clean energy switch will put a big dent in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, inspiring confidence in towns and cities across the country that even the biggest and most complex businesses can run on renewable energy,” Greenpeace’s REenergise campaign director Lindsay Soutar said.
“All three of Australia’s biggest supermarkets have now committed to 100% clean electricity, meaning the goods and services Australians use every day will soon be brought to us by the wind and sun.”
“Combined with the large-scale renewable power purchases Coles has already made, today’s announcement sees them swipe the retailer renewable energy crown from rival Woolworths – for now.”
Coles signed power purchase agreements with three New South Wales solar farms in 2019, purchasing around 70 per cent of the output from projects near the towns of Wagga Wagga, Corowa and Junee.
This was followed up with a deal struck alongside the Queensland government owned CleanCo to buy power from Neoen’s Western Downs Green Power Hub and Acciona’s MacIntyre wind farm to power its Queensland stores.
Last year, Woolworths committed to buying all of its electricity from renewable sources by the same 2025 deadline, while Aldi has said that it will become 100 per cent renewably powered by the end of the year.
Combined, supermarkets are a surprisingly large consumer of energy, with the thousands of supermarkets across Australia each requiring energy hungry lighting, heating and cooling and large refrigeration and freezer systems.
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), which has led a number of shareholder campaigns to pressure publicly listed companies to adopt stronger climate commitments, likewise welcomed Coles’ announcement saying that the new targets adopted by Coles sees it ranked amongst the most ambitious ASX-listed companies.
“Coles is now a close second in ambition, after Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) committed earlier this week to achieve net zero emissions by 2030,” ACCR’s Dan Gocher said.
“Coles is not an insignificant emitter—it produced 1.6 million tonnes of CO2e in FY2020—and ranks in the top 50 of Australia’s largest polluters.”
“This latest flurry of climate announcements from Australian companies shows the penny has finally dropped on climate risk management. The Federal government would be wise to take heed,” Gocher added.