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Walmart sets big new goal: Zero emissions by 2040

Another major retailer aims to eliminate carbon emissions from its operations in the next 20 years.

Walmart announced ambitious new sustainability goals on Monday, including a zero emissions goal across the chain’s global operations by 2040. The retail giant and the Walmart Foundation philanthropy organization are also committing to help protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030. 

Walmart will take a number of steps to meet its zero emissions target, including harvesting enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035. (Currently, Walmart powers about 29% of its operations with renewable energy.) 

Also by 2040, the chain plans to transition to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, warehouse clubs, and data and distribution centers, and to electrify and zero out emissions from all of its vehicles, including long-haul trucks and 

Amazon co-launched a similar initiative, the Climate Pledge, in September 2019. Amazon is the first signatory of the pledge, which commits to meet the net zero carbon targets of the Paris Agreement by 2040. But while Amazon plans to neutralize any remaining emissions that may be left after its decarbonization efforts with quantifiable, permanent offsets, Walmart intends to remove all carbon from its global operations without the use of offsets.

“We face a growing crisis of climate change and nature loss and we all need to take action with urgency,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart. “For 15 years, we have been partnering to do the work and continually raising our sustainability ambitions across climate action, nature, waste and people. The commitments we’re making today not only aim to decarbonize Walmart’s global operations, they also put us on the path to becoming a regenerative company – one that works to restore, renew and replenish in addition to preserving our planet, and encourages others to do the same.”

 In a post on the company’s website, McMillon explained that regenerating also means decarbonizing operations and eliminating waste along the product chain. 

“It means encouraging the adoption of regenerative practices in agriculture, forest management and fisheries – while advancing prosperity and equity for customers, associates and people across our product supply chains,” he added. “And, working with our suppliers, customers, NGOs and others, we hope to play a part in transforming the world’s supply chains to be regenerative.”

Working with the Walmart Foundation, Walmart aims to protect, manage or restore some of the world’s most critical landscapes by continuing to support efforts to preserve at least one acre of natural habitat for every acre of land developed by the company in the U.S.; drive the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices, sustainable fisheries management and forest protection and restoration – including an expansion of Walmart’s forests policy; and invest in and work with suppliers to source from place-based efforts that help preserve natural ecosystems and improve livelihoods. 

Because most of the company’s environmental impact comes from its supply chain, Walmart is also working with suppliers through its Project Gigaton initiative to avoid a one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. More than 2,300 suppliers have signed on, and since the effort launched in 2017, suppliers have reported a total of 230 million metric tons of avoided emissions.

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