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How we’re joining forces to mark WWF’s Earth Hour

Kené Umeasiegbu
Kené Umeasiegbu
Head of Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture

As a food business, our long-term success depends on the health of the natural environment. And we know that climate change is one of the biggest environmental threats the world faces. It’s therefore no surprise that our customers expect us to do everything we can to help fight it.

In November 2018 we announced our new partnership with WWF, with the ambition of making it easier for our customers to buy affordable, healthy, sustainable food. Through our partnership, we plan to work together to address key environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity loss and waste.

Every year since 2008 WWF has run a campaign called Earth Hour, a global movement to raise awareness of energy use and climate change. Organisations and individuals can take part in Earth Hour by switching their lights off for one hour, and making a pledge to make a change to reduce their impact on the environment. Pledges could include washing clothes at 30 degrees or less, planning a staycation or reducing plastic use. This year’s Earth Hour takes place between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on Saturday 30 March, and I’m delighted to say that at Tesco we’ll be doing our bit by switching the big Tesco signs off and dimming the interior lighting at 173 stores all around the country – from Aberystwyth to Airdrie, Wembley to Widnes, Tavistock to Taplow. We’ll also be switching the lights off at 187 of our stores in Thailand, our second biggest market.

Switching lights off is really only a symbol of everything we are doing behind the scenes at Tesco to fight climate change. The best way we can do this is by cutting our own carbon emissions and working with our suppliers to do the same. That’s why in 2017, we became the first FTSE 100 company to set ambitious science-based climate targets for our operations aligned to the 1.5 degree trajectory set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. We set out a roadmap to become a zero carbon business by 2050, by reducing carbon emissions by 35% by 2020 against a 2015 baseline, 60% by 2025 and 100% by 2050. To achieve our targets, we’re committed to sourcing 100% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Our businesses in the UK, Ireland and Slovakia already source 100% renewable electricity, supported by renewable certificates. We are in the process of increasing the proportion of our renewable electricity that comes from new on-site and off-site generation across the Group. For example, in Thailand we have invested £8 million in on-site solar generation and our looking to grow this further. Our targets also include cutting supply chain emissions from manufacturing and agriculture, and we are working with our key suppliers to achieve this.

Earth Hour represents a powerful opportunity to get the whole world thinking about climate change, and what you can do to help. If you’re out shopping at Tesco this weekend and you notice the store sign isn’t on or the lights are dimmed, please take the opportunity to think about what you can do to reduce your own carbon footprint and help fight one of the biggest threats our world faces today.

You can read more about how we are making a difference to the social and environmental challenges that matter most to our customers, colleagues and communities, as part of our Little Helps Plan.

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