Amazon Falls Short on Sustainability Goals: The Importance of Real Progress

September 20, 2023

In a significant setback for one of the world's largest companies, Amazon has been removed from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) program. SBTi, a United Nations-backed organization, assists companies in setting and validating emissions reduction targets aligned with climate science. To participate, companies must notify SBTi of their intent to set science-based emission reduction targets, create a plan meeting SBTi's criteria, and submit it for validation within 24 months to stay listed. This move highlights the critical importance of not just making commitments but also demonstrating substantial progress in sustainability efforts. In this context, inoqo emerges as the ideal partner for grocery retailers seeking to assess and optimize the environmental impact of their extensive product offerings.

Amazon's Failed Commitment

Amazon's exclusion from the SBTi program comes after four years into its plan to eliminate carbon emissions. In 2019, the e-commerce giant pledged to eliminate or offset all of its carbon emissions by 2040. However, Amazon's promise to submit its goals to SBTi for verification the following year has resulted in disappointment. The validation for Amazon has been revoked by SBTi, citing an "expired commitment." Amazon is not alone in this; according to S&P, 121 companies worldwide were publicly removed from SBTi's list as of Aug. 7.

The Significance of SBTi Endorsement

An endorsement from SBTi carries substantial weight in the business world, aiding investors in assessing whether portfolio companies are genuinely committed to credible climate goals. Such data is increasingly scrutinized by major investment firms. Over 5,900 companies have committed to SBTi targets, including industry giants like Microsoft, Dell, Cisco, and Apple. This commitment also extends to many international grocery retailers such as Walmart, Tesco, Aldi, and Ahold Delhaize. Setting science-based targets offers several advantages:

  1. Brand Reputation: Sustainability is now paramount, with consumers actively considering a brand's environmental impact. A strong reputation in sustainability is critical.
  2. Resilience against Regulations: Governments worldwide are intensifying climate regulations. Companies aligning with climate goals are better prepared for future regulatory changes.
  3. Increased Innovation: The transition to a low-carbon economy presents numerous opportunities for innovative companies.
  4. Bottom Line Savings: According to a 2018 YouGov survey of 185 company executives from SBTi-committed businesses, companies pursuing ambitious sustainability goals often experience cost savings.
  5. Competitive Edge: The same survey also revealed that SBTi commitment provides a competitive advantage for pioneers in the low-carbon transition

The Need for Sustained Progress - Guiding Land-Intensive Sectors

While committing to SBTi targets is pivotal, demonstrating ongoing progress is equally essential. Without tangible advancements, companies remain at risk of delisting. Many international grocery retailers have embraced SBTi targets as a proactive step toward environmental responsibility.

SBTi offers a standardized approach for companies to support the goal of halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The recently released Forest, Land, and Agriculture (FLAG) Guidance in September 2022 specifically aids land-intensive companies in setting science-based targets. FLAG targets encompass emissions up to the farm gate and are mandatory for companies involved in agriculture, animal sourcing, food processing, and food retail – or companies with more than 20% of their emissions related to FLAG in Scopes 1, 2, and 3. These sectors play a crucial role in meeting the Paris Agreement's 1.5-degree target and the growing demand for food.

However, this is only achievable if businesses adopt ambitious targets in line with the new FLAG Guidance.

inoqo: Your Reliable SBTi Partner

For companies committed to the SBTi program, inoqo provides a robust platform to ensure continuous progress. Our SaaS solution offers a comprehensive assessment of your entire food product range, establishing a baseline for impactful reduction strategies. Our methodology is rooted in science, providing practical steps and measurable objectives. Inoqo is dedicated to helping businesses take tangible steps toward their sustainability goals, making it the perfect partner for those committed to lasting change.

In conclusion, Amazon's removal from the SBTi program underscores the significance of not just setting sustainability goals but also demonstrating genuine progress. The support of organizations like inoqo, with a science-based approach and a commitment to helping businesses achieve their objectives, becomes invaluable in the journey toward a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future.

September 20, 2023

by Laura

from inoqo

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