Supermarket Cuts Emissions 53%, Offsets Rest

CC BY 2.0. Mike Mozart

This is how to do climate action the right way.

When I wrote about what "12 years to save the planet" really means, I noted that what the IPCC is really referring to is the fact that we have about 12 years to cut emissions by 45% based on a 2010 baseline.

I was thinking about this figure—which is admittedly daunting—as I read about the supermarket chain Aldi and its efforts to curb its footprint. According to Business Green, the UK arm of the German supermarket chain has cut greenhouse gas emissions per square metre of its sales floor by 53 per cent since 2012, largely through installing solar, buying green energy and undertaking significant energy efficiency and energy management upgrades.

In other words, this one arm of this one company in one country has already achieved the necessary emissions cuts—at least in terms of its own operations. (Supply chains are another matter entirely.) In addition, the company is also working with ClimatePartner to offset the remainder of its direct emissions at over 900 stores and 11 distribution centers across the UK and Ireland.

I'm not saying that moves like this are enough. We need society-wide engagement and a significant scale up in ambition if we are going to turn the corner on the existential climate challenge we face. But what Aldi's efforts do show is that once a company or organization puts its mind to it, significant emissions cuts can be achieved in very short order—not least because our business-as-usual default is so astoundingly inefficient and polluting.

Congratulations, Aldi UK. Let's hope for more of the same from your competitors.