Australia’s largest retail body is calling for more aggressive climate action in the country, saying urgent action to address climate change will become a leading focus for the sector as it emerges from lockdown and shifts gear into recovery.
The Australian Retailers Association is supporting calls for Australia to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, with a more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target.
Paul Zahra, outspoken CEO of the association, said the science is clear and so is the business case for change.
“Having navigated the global pandemic, we are now moving on to tackle the next big global disruption – climate change,” he stated.
Australian consumers want action on climate
“Report after report has demonstrated that consumers want this change, with a recent study showing that Australians are three times more concerned about climate change than Covid. Our sector is listening and acting, with 40% of Australia’s retail trade already covered by public commitments to net-zero emissions.”
Following the establishment of a sustainability taskforce earlier this year, the association conducted in-depth consultation with members to stimulate their views on climate action.
In a survey conducted this month, 63% of members who responded agreed that urgent action is needed to mitigate the impacts of climate change, with 59% having already taken steps to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.
In the lead up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this month, the association has now released its own Five-Point Climate Action Plan.
Sector must have a common vision on change
It will engage Australian retailers to unify the sector behind a common vision for change and create a net-zero roadmap for the industry that is informed by global best practice and the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign, which was recently launched by global leaders in sustainable retail.
The association will also support retailers in setting and meeting their own climate-change targets by arranging workshops and training sessions. In addition, it is to offer support for the retail sector to transition to renewable energy through education and partnerships.
The fifth point in the action plan is to collaborate with other sectors to take a holistic approach to addressing emissions in key retail precincts, in warehousing and transportation, and along the supply chain.
“Unlike previous disruptions that have caught some retailers off guard, we’ve had plenty of notice about the need for climate action. Retail has a great foundation to build on, with many Australian retailers already taking steps to reduce emissions within their sphere of influence,” Zahra said.