Ikea Group, the world’s biggest home furnishings retailer, has unveiled plans to to be energy and resource independent by 2020 under an ambitious new sustainability strategy backed by €1.5 billion in renewable energy investment – more than doubling its initial spend of €590 million, in order to help meet the new targets. Announced on Tuesday, IKEA’s “People and Planet Positive” plan is designed to protect the company from price shocks and tap into customers’ desire for a greener lifestyle, the firm said in a webcast, reports BusinessGreen.
The Swedish company says the plan will help it get 70 per cent of its energy consumption from renewable sources – “from renewable installations we own and operate,” Steve Howard, chief sustainability officer at IKEA Group, told reporters – by 2015, and 100 per cent by 2020. “Efficiency makes sense and it makes more sense now than ever before,” Howard said. “We’ve got rising costs of raw materials and rising costs of energy and a really strong need to decarbonize.”
As BusinessGreen points out, IKEA has already installed more than 342,000 (43MW) solar PV panels on stores and other buildings and has committed to own and operate 180MW of wind energy capacity across five countries, including its purchase of a 12.3MW wind farm in Scotland last year. “We know we’re going to be using energy in 20 years’ time,” Howard said. “If we can own our own renewable energy plants … it gives us complete price certainty.” Howard also suggested that the company could become a net energy exporter, selling surplus capacity to suppliers or customers.
IKEA’s sustainability strategy also sets 2020 goals for its products, raw materials and suppliers, reports Bloomberg, which amount to more than 1,000 in 53 countries. At the start of the month it announced it would only sell LED lighting in its stores from 2016, and the company’s goals also include using only cotton and wood from “preferred” certified sources, using sustainable palm oil, and recycling 90 per cent of waste from its stores.
In his webcast briefing, Howard also stressed that the planned green investments offered attractive financial returns for the company. “If you were an investor and somebody came to you and said ‘I’ve got this great unsustainable business,’ or someone came to you and said ‘I’ve got this great business and we’ve got a plan to make it as sustainable as possible,’ which would you like to invest in?” he said. “We’ll see a really big movement in this direction. Over the next few decades, this is the era of the sustainable business.”
In other news…
Federal climate minister Greg Combet has suggested that his government’s climate and clean energy policies will likely drive investment of $100 billion over the next four decades. In a speech delivered in Sydney today, Bloomberg reports that Combet said the government intends linking with emissions trading schemes in NZ and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Former IEA director Nobuo Tanaka has declared he is “very sceptical” about the feasibility of Japan’s plan replace its nuclear power capacity with renewable energy, arguing that Japan will need to keep nuclear in the mix, because renewables are too costly and the country’s grid is too decentralised. Speaking at the Asia Future Energy Forum in Singapore, Tanaka said a low-nuclear scenario would be “a huge cost and loss of energy security” for Japan.
Meanwhile, in Japan, construction of the country’s largest solar power plant – 81.5MW – is underway and set to be finished in about 18 months. CleanTechnica reports that the new facility, which is being built by Japan’s Marubeni Corp, will incorporate around 350,000 solar panels over a 105 hectare area. It will sell the power to Kyushu Electric Power Company.
And in Germany, a poll conducted by the German news magazine Focus, and published on Sunday, has found that 72 per cent of respondents continue to support the country’s nuclear phaseout and transition to renewable energy sources within the decade, regardless of increased electricity costs. 24 per cent were opposed to the policy.
A new survey by the Carbon Disclosure Project has found that more than half of the world’s largest listed companies are affected by water stress. In a report on Tuesday, CDP said that its poll of 185 companies found that 53 per cent suffered from water scarcity, flooding, rising compliance costs, regulatory uncertainty or poor water quality in the past five years, up from 38 per cent last year.