Led by the Australian Retailers Association and the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, a number of retailers have joined a UN-backed campaign in a ‘Race to Zero’.
Ikea Australia, Kmart Group and Officeworks have each pledged to support the campaign, drive climate action in their own businesses, and encourage other retailers to set public net-zero emission goals.
“Climate change and the resulting impacts are among the greatest challenge we’ll face in our lifetime,” said Kmart Group MD Ian Bailey.
“I know we don’t have all the answers right now, however what I do know is that if we join forces together we can work our way through this very complicated challenge and make things right.”
And, following the pandemic, it seems customer sentiment is on their side: A recent report commissioned by Republic of Everyone and The Bravery found that 56 of Australians are now looking for ‘good’ brands and products, and, according to the campaign, 8 in 10 customers use sustainable metrics to decide how they will shop.
“Report after report has demonstrated that Australian consumers want this change. Having negotiated the global pandemic, Australian retailers are now moving on to the next big global disruption – climate change,” ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said.
“Unlike previous disruptions that have caught some retailers off guard, we’ve had plenty of notice about the need for climate action – the science is clear, the case for change is compelling and our members are acting.”
Sarah Hunter, managing director at Officeworks, said the retail industry, working together, can demonstrate the leadership and action necessary to limit the worst impacts of climate change.
“Collectively, the retail sector serves millions of Australians every day, so the choices that we make can have an enormous impact beyond what we can directly control,” said Hunter.
Ikea Australia’s sustainability manager Melissa Hamilton agreed, noting that they are on the journey but still have a long way to go.
“By 2030, our ambition is to be a circular business built on clean, renewable energy and regenerative resources, de-coupling material use from our growth,” Hamilton said.
“By working together and united under a common goal with this initiative, we want to share our knowledge and experience, and learn from others. Each of us can be a leader for change.”
Other retailers are encouraged to join the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign by setting targets based on the latest science, with the goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.