Local weather Week NYC Kicks Off With A New Dedication From Walmart

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Climate Week NYC Kicks Off With A New Commitment From Walmart

To kick off this year's event, the world's largest retailer in terms of annual sales has pledged to be 100% carbon neutral globally by 2040, which means it will no longer emit carbon into the atmosphere for the next 20 years.

To achieve this milestone, Walmart must provide all stores and warehouses with renewable energy, invest in an all-electric fleet of trucks and delivery vehicles, and move to low-impact refrigerant systems in grocery aisles around the world. As of 2019, 29% of Walmart's operations were powered by renewable energy.

Walmart isn't the first major retailer to announce that it will be carbon neutral in the decades to come. Apple, Ford and Amazon are all committed to doing this before 2050. The kicker here, and the reason this announcement is so significant, is that Walmart plans to do so without buying any carbon offsetting payments.

Businesses and individuals buy offsets to offset the emissions they give off into the environment. For example, if a company releases 1 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, it can pay to remove 1 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon-reduction initiatives such as tree planting and soil improvement and still be considered carbon neutral.

One criticism of offsets is that they divert attention from the urgent need to reduce, not just negate, global emissions. It's also difficult to track or quantify in a consistent manner. Walmart's decision not to include it in its climate strategy prompted Helen Clarkson, CEO of the nonprofit behind Climate Week NYC, to describe the extent of its commitment as "monumental" in a press release shared with mbg.

In addition to reducing emissions, Walmart is committed to protecting and restoring 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean to become a "net positive" business – one that renews the earth rather than degrades it.

The big caveat here is that these targets only take into account Walmart's own emissions and don't take into account its suppliers' supply chains, most of which are extremely carbon intensive. So it's a step, but there is still a lot to be done and it will be interesting to see how other big players follow suit this week.

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