Climate change is widely regarded as humanity’s greatest challenge. If left unchecked, global atmospheric temperature is forecast to rise by between 1°C and 6.4°C by the end of this century, bringing severe disruption to both the economic and ecological systems upon which humanity depends.
The Co-operative’s approach to climate change is five-fold, embracing: energy efficiency, support for renewable energy, carbon offsetting, the provision of finance, and public policy lobbying.
Targets are set through Our Ethical Plan and performance is measured through the annual Sustainability Report.
Our Goal - Construct a new head office by 2013 that will set new standards in sustainable design, construction and operation in the UK.
Our new head office in Manchester city centre opened in 2013 and sets new standards in sustainability – achieving BREEAM Outstanding for its design, and reflecting our commitment to environmental sustainability.
Features of the building include on-site power generation, a double skin façade to control heat loss and gain, harvesting and re-use of grey-water generated on-site, and provision of cycling facilities as part of new Green Travel initiatives.
The greatest proportion of emissions at The Co-operative are generated from the Food stores. As a result hundreds of stores are being refitted and retrofitted annually. These include a raft of energy efficiency measures such as installing energy management systems, using efficient LED lighting, and training staff in the areas of energy and waste management.
Our Goal - Generate the equivalent of 25% of electricity needs from renewable sources by 2017.
Nearly all (over 98%) of the electricity used by The Co-operative is sourced from renewable sources, such as wind and small-scale hydro, which makes us one of the largest purchasers of green electricity in the world! The Co-operative Funeralcare, Clothing and Pharmacy achieve carbon neutrality through purchasing carbon offsets equivalent to their remaining emissions. Further to this, The Co-operative Bank offsets an additional 10% each year to address for legacy issues.
We not only purchase green electricity but have actually built wind farms on our own farm land. We opened our second wind farm in 2012, have another under construction and one more with planning permission.
Campaigning and public policy
Our Goal - We will continue our Clean Energy Revolution campaign, which seeks to end the use of unconventional fossil fuels and inspire community energy growth.
We campaign against unconventional fossil fuel development such as tar sands and shale gas, whilst campaigning in favour of community renewable energy and for a Green Schools Revolution. We also lobby for a sustainable and low carbon UK, on matters such as Feed in Tariffs, the Renewable Heat Incentive, mandatory greenhouse gas reporting, the Green Investment Bank, and the Fuel Quality Directive.
Product carbon footprinting
The Co-operative has developed a software tool in partnership with The University of Manchester that facilitates quick and accurate calculations around the climate change impacts of products. The tool has been used to analyse five product areas to date. See a table of impacts in our downloadable pdf.