Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. If we don’t take more aggressive action now, the damage will only worsen, and the consequences will be disastrous for this and future generations.
As a retailer with operations in more than two dozen countries and sourcing that spans the globe, Walmart is deeply committed to addressing climate change. We’re focused on strengthening business resilience, advocating for climate action and targeting zero emissions across our global operations by 2040, without relying on carbon offsets.
In 2016, Walmart was also the first retailer with a science-based target designed to achieve emissions reduction in our own operations and supply chain, which we recently upgraded to align with the highest ambition of the Science-Based Target initiative. In 2020, we raised our aspiration to reduce emissions in our operations (scopes 1 & 2) by realigning our science-based target to a 1.5-degree Celsius trajectory, the highest ambition approved by the Science-Based Target initiative.
Because most emissions in the retail sector lie in product supply chains rather than in stores and distribution centers, we’re also working with suppliers through our Project Gigaton initiative to avoid a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from the global value chain by 2030. That’s the equivalent of taking over 200 million passenger vehicles off U.S. roads for a year.
More than 3,100 suppliers have signed on. Since the effort launched in 2017, suppliers report a total of 416 million metric tons of emissions avoided through energy, waste, packaging, agriculture, forests and product use and design.
We are focused on reducing emissions in our operations, engaging suppliers to reduce emissions in supply chains, strengthening the resilience of our business and using our voice to advocate for collective action.
In 2020, Walmart was the only global consumer packaged goods retailer to make CDP’s A List and Supplier Engagement Leaderboard for Climate. Walmart estimates its Scope 1, 2 and partial Scope 3 GHG emissions in accordance with the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard and has disclosed this and other climate related information annually since 2006.
In 2020, we raised our aspiration to reduce emissions in our operations (scopes 1 & 2) by realigning our science-based target to a 1.5-degree Celsius trajectory, the highest ambition approved by the SBTi. Our goal is to achieve zero emissions across Walmart’s global operations by 2040, reducing absolute scopes 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 35% by 2025 and by 65% by 2030 from our 2015 base year. We were the first U.S. retailer to make a zero emissions commitment that does not rely on carbon offsets.
We achieved a 12.1% reduction in scopes 1 and 2 emissions between our 2015 calendar year baseline and 2019.
Sustainable Supply Chain
Because most emissions in the retail sector lie in product supply chains rather than in stores and distribution centers (such indirect emissions are referred to as Scope 3 emissions), we started Project Gigaton in 2017 – our initiative to engage suppliers in climate action along with NGOs and other stakeholders.
Project Gigaton aims to avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030 by inviting suppliers to set targets and take action in six areas: energy use, sustainable agriculture, waste, forests, packaging and product use. The Project Gigaton platform includes a variety of resources, including calculators to help set and report on goals, best practices workshops, and links to additional resources and initiatives. More than 3,100 suppliers have signed on, and since the effort launched in 2017, suppliers report a total of 416 million metric tons of avoided emissions.
Walmart and Schneider Electric, a leader in renewable energy purchasing, are collaborating on Gigaton PPA, an initiative to educate Walmart suppliers about renewable energy purchases and accelerate renewable energy adoption by participating suppliers through aggregate power purchase agreements. The GPPA initiative is designed to make it possible for more companies to learn about energy purchases, access renewable energy, reduce emissions and increase their ability to contribute towards Project Gigaton.
Climate-related Risk Assessment
To inform the company’s climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, Walmart periodically conducts a scenario-based climate risk assessment, aiming to align with the scenario guidance set forth by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). We updated the physical risk analysis in 2020 with the help of a third-party consultant, considering climate-related risks in the short-, medium- and long-terms.
Mitigating the Effects of Climate Change
Mitigating the effects of climate change will require worldwide collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because most emissions in the retail sector lie in product supply chains rather than in stores and distribution centers, we have committed to pursue substantial emissions reduction not only in our own operations but also across product supply chains by catalyzing and supporting initiatives among suppliers, NGOs, customers and others at scale.
Adapting to the Effects of Climate Change
Insights into climate risk have underscored the relevance of Walmart’s initiatives and long-standing capabilities in resilient operations and sourcing. Examples include:
Walmart’s Emergency Management Department uses predictive analytics to gauge the path and likely severity of seasonal weather events such as hurricanes that could impact operations and supply lines. The Emergency Management team helps our operations and supply chain teams prepare for and minimize the effects of such events. In the event of a disaster, they operate out of Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center, engaging associates, local governments, NGOs and others as needed, deploying associates with specialized expertise, mobile generators, fuel resources, trucks, and other resources to manage crises on the ground.
Because product supply chains such as produce can be especially susceptible to weather events and to climate change over time, Walmart has sought to enhance resilience by diversifying sources, encouraging suppliers to adopt more sustainable practices, experimenting with innovative seed varieties and controlled environments and reducing transport time.
In 2020, an estimated 36% of our electricity needs globally were supplied by renewable sources. Through systems installed at our facilities and through purchases from external providers, we aim to harvest enough wind, solar and other energy sources to power our facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035.
We have more than 550 onsite and offsite projects and utility programs and partnerships in operation or under development in eight countries, 30 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.
According to solar and wind associations, in 2019, Walmart added more solar energy than any other company increasing our solar use by more than 35% and Walmart purchased the most wind energy of any company, signing contracts for over 500 megawatts.
Walmart works every day to deliver affordable, fresh produce to millions of people in a pleasant shopping environment. Doing so requires the use of refrigeration and air-cooling equipment across our cold value chains—from our distribution centers, to our delivery vehicles to our stores and clubs. This equipment requires a lot of energy; it can account for 30 to 40 percent of the energy consumption in our buildings. In addition, the refrigerant gases used in most systems—known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)—are greenhouse gases. This makes managing and improving these systems a high priority.
Our goal is to transition to low-impact refrigerants for cooling in our stores, clubs, data centers and distribution centers by 2040. We aim to do this by improving efficiency in current systems and transitioning to new systems using refrigerant media with lower overall environmental impacts. Our approach focuses on reducing refrigerants and energy use in existing systems, preventing future performance issues through new equipment designs and transitioning to low-GWP refrigerants in new and existing systems.
We are working to electrify our fleet and reach net-zero emissions from all our vehicles and transportation network, including long-haul trucks in the U.S. and Canada, by 2040. Building on our success of doubling our truck fleet’s efficiency between 2005 and 2015, we work with equipment manufacturers, policymakers, utilities, transportation working groups and other organizations to achieve our goals. To accelerate progress, we are looking to meet the unique demands of our business with a portfolio of different technologies, including but not limited to renewable diesel, electric battery and hydrogen fuels. We have already started piloting vehicles in the U.S. using some of these technologies, and our business in India deliver items exclusively on electric motorcycles in many areas. We’re also working to transition long-haul/heavy-duty Class 8 tractors, where the technology is still in early stages and infrastructure to support these vehicles is currently not in place. To overcome this barrier, we will work with trusted equipment manufacturers and others on testing solutions. We believe we can act as an industry leader to articulate the necessary changes that will lead to a zero-emission business future.
We aim to zero out the emissions of our heating systems and vehicles, including long-haul trucks, by 2040. We'll do this by transitioning to electric and hydrogen-fueled vehicles, scaling charging at our facilities and more. These goals are ambitious, and we will need innovation and infrastructure to get there.
As of 2020, Walmart has 1,396 electric vehicle charging stations located at more than 347 retail locations across 41 U.S. states. This infrastructure is designed to allow Walmart to provide a valuable service to our customers and contribute to reducing emissions in the communities where we operate.