Walmart Wants Zero Emissions by 2040—Without Carbon Offsets

The retailer has a new plan to become 'regenerative' and protect 50 million acres of land

Illustration from Walmart
Walmart first sought to become more sustainable following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when it saw how climate change could impact communities. Walmart
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Walmart has set ambitious new goals for itself to combat climate change, targeting zero emissions in its global operations by 2040, as well as committing to protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030.

In fact, in a blog post, president and CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer wants to become a “regenerative company.”

“Regenerating means restoring, renewing and replenishing in addition to conserving,” he wrote. “It 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.”

McMillon also noted regenerative means working with suppliers, customers and NGOs to change the world’s supply chain.

Walmart said in a statement that it plans to reach zero emissions by 2040 without carbon offsets, but instead by:

  • harvesting enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035;
  • electrifying and zeroing out emissions from all of its vehicles by 2040;
  • and transitioning to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores and data and distribution centers by 2040.

In collaboration with the Walmart Foundation, its philanthropic arm, the retailer plans to help “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.;
  • driving the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices, sustainable fisheries management and forest protection and restoration, including an expansion of Walmart’s forests policy;
  • and investing in and working with suppliers to source from placed-based efforts that help preserve natural ecosystems and improve livelihoods.

“We’ll do this work by aiming to improve how products are sourced, promote the adoption of nature-friendly policies and certifications, continue supporting preservation efforts and invest in place-based partnerships that combine conservation, restoration and sustainable management,” McMillon said.

He noted Walmart first sought to become more sustainable following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 “when we saw firsthand how climate change could impact communities.” At the time, the retailer’s goal was to achieve 100% renewable energy, zero waste and a more sustainable supply chain.

As a result, Walmart now powers about 30% of its operations with renewable energy and diverts roughly 80% of its waste from landfills and incineration. And because most of its environmental impact comes from its supply chain, the retailer said it is working with suppliers through its Project Gigaton initiative to avoid a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. More than 2,300 suppliers have signed on since 2017 and they report 230 million metric tons of emissions have been prevented.

Now, the retailer says we must all “take immediate action to drastically reduce and remove greenhouse gas emissions” to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

“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,” McMillon added in a statement.

The press release noted studies have shown animal populations have declined by over 60% in over 40 years and 20% of the Amazon’s rainforest has disappeared in 50 years.

“Not only can a regenerative approach to nature help reverse these negative impacts and sustain critical resources for the future, it can also provide around a third of the solution to climate change,” the release said.


@lisalacy lisa.lacy@adweek.com Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.
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