Accelerating the journey to net zero for Retail
In October 2021, a study by Microsoft in partnership with Dr Chris Brauer from Goldsmiths, University of London revealed that despite having strong sustainability goals and ambitions, 59% of UK organisations are set to miss the government’s 2050 net zero target. The study, which surveyed 1,707 industry leaders, 2,153 employees and an array of environmental experts and academics, also found that 74% of organisations have ‘one foot in and one foot out’ on sustainability. In other words, while many have made solid headway in developing sustainability strategies, often those plans are yet to translate into meaningful actions.
The retail sector is no exception. Despite encouraging reductions in its overall carbon footprint – according to 2021 British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures, total emissions have nearly halved since 2005 – the study finds that just 28% of UK retail organisations are currently on course to be net zero by 2050 . This is lower than the national average (41%) but ahead of other sectors such as financial services and healthcare. Similarly, 74% are still struggling to back up their climate commitments with tangible reductions in their carbon footprint.
Academics led by Dr Chris Brauer have created a series of short- and long-term steps that UK retailers can take to both improve their own sustainability performance and play their part in building a net zero economy.