Countdown to 2020

July 30, 2012




Climate change is one of the greatest threats mankind faces. It transcends national boundaries, and threatens to affect us all in many different ways: from risks to supply chains, to the direct impact that changes in the climate will have on our customers’ lives and the operation of our stores. Retail businesses can play a powerful role in tackling climate change. We are determined not only to play our part, but to play a leading role.

On the way to our overall goal of becoming a zero-carbon business by 2050, we have set ourselves a number of targets.

  • By 2020, we will halve carbon emissions from our 2006/7 baseline portfolio of stores
  • New stores built between 2007 and 2020 to emit half the CO2 of a 2006 new store
  • To reduce the carbon emissions of the products in our supply chain by 30% by 2020
  • To find ways to help our customers reduce their own carbon footprints by 50% by 2020
  • To reduce the carbon emissions per case of goods delivered by 25% by 2020 against a baseline of 2011/12

We have set ambitious targets to reduce our own footprint, reduce the emissions from our supply chain, and help our customers to reduce their footprints too.

Reducing our carbon emissions is the right thing to do for a responsible business seeking sustainable profits. It conserves energy, saves money, helps deliver energy security and better resource efficiency. Plus our customers want to see us play our part.

So we have set ambitious targets to reduce our own footprint with the ultimate aim of being a zero-carbon business by 2050, without purchasing offsets. That means reducing our energy and fuel use as far as possible and using renewable sources to supply the energy we do need.

The work we have done so far has been independently recognised as world-leading. In September 2011, Tesco was named the top retailer in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s UK FTSE 350 and Global 500 reports for our carbon reporting and performance.

Our global direct carbon footprint in 2011/12 was 5.66 million tonnes of CO2e. We continued to decouple our business growth from the growth in our carbon emissions: while our net sales area grew by 9%, our carbon footprint increased by only 5%. See how we calculate our carbon footprint.

We have a target to find ways to help our customers reduce their own footprints by 50% by 2020

Our customers’ carbon footprint is around 100 times greater than our direct carbon footprint. There is therefore a real opportunity to tackle climate change by helping our customers to make small changes that together can make a big difference.

We’re committed to working with customers to lead a revolution in green consumption. We know that it has to be easy and affordable to make green choices. Here are some of the areas we are focusing on.


Across a number of our markets we are helping to educate the next generation about climate change.

  • In South Korea, we run our Green Leaders programme where children learn the importance of protecting our environment. We have over 30,000 ‘Green Leaders’ and aim to educate 100,000 to become Green Leaders by 2020.
  • Last year over 350 teams from schools across Poland entered the Tesco for Schools eco-film competition to raise awareness of environmental issues. The videos they made were watched and voted for by nearly 60,000 people, who selected 30 winning schools.
  • In Turkey, our Tomorrow’s Footprint educational programme helps children understand the impact of climate change, and so far a total of 38,000 children have taken part.

Incentivising green behaviour

In the UK, we give out over one billion green Clubcard points, worth over £10 million, every year to customers who reuse carrier bags, recycle aluminium cans at our automated recycling machines, recycle printer cartridges and mobile phones, choose bagless home delivery, or buy home insulation or renewable energy through Tesco Home Efficiency.

In 2011, we trialled green Clubcard points in Slovakia, offering them to customers who reused carrier bags. The trial saved over 30 million bags, and in 2012 we decided to extend the scheme, giving green Clubcard points to customers who buy reusable bags or energy saving products.

Similar green Clubcard point schemes have also been rolled out in Poland, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and Turkey.

Together For Trees

Tropical rainforests are being destroyed at the rate of one football pitch every four seconds. It’s an issue our customers care about and we recognise our responsibility to protect our world. Together For Trees, our partnership with the RSPB, gives UK customers the opportunity to donate their green Clubcard points and Clubcard vouchers to save rainforests all over the world. For more information, please take a look at our website.

Climate Week

In 2012, for the second year running, Tesco was the headline partner for Climate Week UK. This national event helps show people how they can take small actions to help combat climate change. We supported Climate Week 2012 through ‘Climate Week Cuisine’ activities, sharing low carbon recipes and tips. The event is supported and endorsed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, former UN Director General Kofi Annan and former US Vice President Al Gore.

Carbon labelling

We have set ourselves demanding targets both to reduce carbon emissions in the products we sell by 30% by 2020, and to find ways to help customers reduce their carbon footprints by 50% by 2020. We believe that carbon labelling plays a really important role in helping us deliver these targets. We have labelled over 500 products since 2008 and our aim is to find a way to footprint and label products faster and more cost effectively. We are learning from the labelling we have already undertaken and are working with the Carbon Trust and other partners to improve our systems so that we can do even more to help our customers make greener choices.

Sustainable Consumption Institute

In 2007, Tesco committed £25 million to create the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) at the University of Manchester. The SCI is a multidisciplinary centre of global excellence, researching major national and international issues associated with sustainability and encouraging consumers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. Among its flagship projects, the SCI is focusing on understanding and changing consumer behaviour, and identifying new technologies and innovations across the supply chain. For more information, see