Powering our Path to Renewable Energy

April 2013 Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting

By Mike Duke

April 15, 2013

April 2013 Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting

Remarks as Prepared for Mike Duke

Thank you, Leslie. You know, I also remember being here in 2005 when we started on our sustainability journey. In fact, I see a lot of faces today who were here then. And I think that we should all be so proud of the progress that Walmart has made over these last eight years. When I took my current job as CEO, I promised that we would broaden and accelerate sustainability. We’ve done that. And what I love about today is that we’re going to keep doing it.

But before I raise expectations on you all again, I want to appreciate a few Walmart leaders, associates and teams that have made a special contribution to meeting our original 20% greenhouse gas commitment. I’d like to thank Charles Zimmerman for leading the charge with the global teams. Greg Trimble on the U.S. energy team led the difficult task of ensuring every market could measure something they’d never measured before. I also want to highlight the U.K., which led the company by delivering a fantastic 33% greenhouse gas reduction.

More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100% by renewable energy is the right goal. And we know that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful. Because when we use less energy … that’s less energy we have to buy … and that means less waste and more savings. It churns the productivity loop and helps us deliver EDLC. 

Today, we’re announcing our next step on the path to being supplied 100% by renewable energy and making even more dramatic progress on energy efficiency.

Before I get to our new commitments, I’d like to talk a little about how I see Walmart making a difference with renewables and energy efficiency. For me, renewables and energy efficiency are about our customers and helping them save money so they can live better.

One of the favorite parts of my job is walking our stores and clubs, talking to our customers and visiting them in their homes. No matter which country I’m in, I always hear them talk about the importance of stretching a dollar, yuan, peso or real. And energy is a big part of that – whether it’s covering the electricity bill or buying fuel for your home or car. 

And the same is true for our company.  Because when I look at some of the projections for the future, energy costs could grow twice as fast as our store and club growth. Finding cleaner and more affordable energy is vital to EDLC. And that makes it important to our customers’ pocketbooks. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but we may have an opportunity to save over a billion dollars per year in energy cost savings around the world.

I just love the fact that Leslie shared earlier – that over the longer term, the renewable energy we buy meets or beats non-renewable power prices. We’re doing that by what we do best – leveraging our size and scale. We buy a lot of wind power. And we buy a lot of solar power. We also show our commitment to suppliers in how we purchase energy.  Our agreements are generally for five, 10 or even 15 years of electricity. And that’s different from the past. This gives suppliers certainty about the future, allowing them to invest in facilities and projects. And this drives down the cost of renewables for everyone.

At Walmart, our customers don’t have to choose between shopping at a retailer committed to clean energy and shopping for products they can afford. Our leadership is something that our customers can feel good about – whether the result is a cleaner environment or a store that watches every penny. And all of us in this room should feel good about that too. 

With all of this in mind, I’m really excited about the opportunity ahead. We believe we can make a much bigger difference with renewable energy and energy efficiency. That’s why we’re making two new, major commitments today.

First, we’re going big on renewable energy. In fact, we’re going to go six times bigger. By the end of 2020, our commitment is to drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy globally. That’s equal to eliminating the need for two fossil fuel power plants.

Second, we’re accelerating energy efficiency. This is above and beyond the efficiency gains we’ve already made. By the end of 2020, we’ll reduce the energy per square foot that we need to power our buildings around the world by 20% versus 2010.

Combined, these new commitments are expected to cap our use of non-renewable electricity at 2010 levels. We forecast that Walmart’s renewable projects will increase from 3% of our global energy use in 2010 to 17% by 2020. Also by 2020, we project renewable energy will supply nearly 30% of the total energy used in our buildings.

Importantly, achieving these commitments will be everyone’s responsibility at Walmart – U.S. Stores, Sam’s Club, International, and every single market. 

So what will they mean for our business, our customers and the communities we serve? 

They’ll make us a stronger business. As I mentioned, energy efficiency and renewable energy are critical to EDLC. Once this program is fully implemented, we could save over $1 billion per year globally in energy costs.

These commitments are good for our communities. 7 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy is enough to power every household in Austin, Texas, for over a year.  That’s all clean, pollution-free energy.

These commitments are good for the environment. Combined, we expect they will help us avoid almost 9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s like taking almost one and a half million cars off the road. 

Let me talk a little more about that. We have big plans to grow and serve many more customers in the years ahead. With those plans, many would expect our greenhouse gas emissions to grow significantly as well. But from 2005 to 2011, while our square footage increased 40% and sales grew 44%, our emissions grew only 10%. 

So we have already shown that we can grow our business while slowing our environmental impact. 

Now today’s announcements are really exciting. Our new commitments will further separate the link between our growth and our greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, for the first time, we are forecasting that the greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings’ energy use will decrease … that’s right, decrease … by 2020.

I want to close by saying thank you again to everyone who has helped establish Walmart as a leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency. It has been a truly global effort. This next, bold step on our path to being supplied 100% by renewable energy is an incredible opportunity. It’s amazing to think that 2020 will mark 15 years since that goal was announced. I believe we will then look back on this moment and say that this was the tipping point for renewable energy. This was when the questions were answered … when renewable energy began to be seen as a truly viable energy source … and both the right way and the best way forward for the future.