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World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

WWF's Marty Spitzer and Walmart's Katherine Neebe discuss sustainability issues on a Walmart roof, with solar panels.

Project Gigaton Q&A: Reducing a company’s energy footprint

  • Date: 20 November 2018
  • Author: Marty Spitzer, Senior Director of Renewable Energy, WWF

Walmart’s Project Gigaton is a supplier-focused initiative to prevent one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions across their global supply chain over 15 years (2015-2030). Project Gigaton aims to inspire suppliers to reduce emissions across their own operations and supply chains.

There are six pillars of Project Gigaton through which suppliers can reduce emissions: energy, agriculture, forests, packaging, waste, and product use. World Wildlife Fund works with Walmart on several of these pillars to help suppliers reach their sustainability targets, and, in turn, further WWF’s conservation mission. In this blog, Marty Spitzer, Senior Director of Renewable Energy at WWF, highlights the energy pillar of Project Gigaton.

How does energy contribute to climate change and emissions outputs within a company’s supply chain?

The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions around the world come from energy consumption. And for many companies, their supply chain emissions far exceed emissions within their personal operations. That means when looking at a company’s carbon footprint, energy emissions in the supply chain is a good place to start.

If a supplier has already set an emissions reduction goal what is the value of joining Project Gigaton?

For an individual company that’s already set a goal, what Project Gigaton provides is access to a large group of companies and an easy onramp to initiatives that will help companies achieve their goals and set more ambitious targets over time.

The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) is one example of an initiative available to Walmart suppliers in Project Gigaton that can help companies make it easy to buy renewable energy. Project Gigaton also encourages companies to set science based goals to reduce their emissions in line with the standards of the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). The SBTi offers the global standard and accreditation for companies setting SBTs. Project Gigaton also has a relationship with RE100 for companies looking to set a 100% renewable energy goals. We are excited about Project Gigaton because it is a platform that is helping to drive collective action at a large scale and also directly connecting companies with the programs needed to implement their goals.

Companies share barriers and paths to success at the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance Summit.

If a supplier is just starting out on their sustainability journey, what would they do to get ready to join Project Gigaton? Who can help?

The first thing that every company should do as they embark on their journey to address climate change is measure their emissions footprint and set up a baseline so they can prioritize the most important emissions and track progress over time. That can be done in house, by a consultant, with NGOs or through partnering with companies. With a baseline in hand a company can identify its greatest reduction opportunities, set goals and begin to implement them. On the Project Gigaton website, companies can sign up and add their commitments. Even if a company has not yet set up a baseline or target, they may still get started with Project Gigaton by investing in emission reduction projects and registering them with Project Gigaton. 

If a company has already joined Gigaton under the energy pillar, why sign up for other pillars?

If a company is well on its way with its energy goals, there are other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on what kind of company it is and where its footprint is most significant, looking beyond energy emissions is a tremendous opportunity to approach emissions holistically and execute larger reductions.

What resources are available to help those already committed, those looking to commit and those who feel there’s a barrier of entry for a supplier of their size.

For those who are thinking about joining, there are really no barriers to entry. Walmart encourages suppliers to look at their own operations and make a commitment that works best for them. For larger companies, there are quite a few initiatives out there that are designed for your participation and Walmart’s Sustainability Hub has many of those initiatives listed. For smaller companies, those initiatives may not feel like the right fit, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t invest in emissions reductions goals. Smaller companies can start with a commitment to simply understand where their emissions are coming from and subsequently branch out to individualized goals related to transportation, packaging, commodity-driven deforestation or whatever area will help reduce emissions within their operations. 

This blog is part of a series. Please see our additional Project Gigaton Q&As on forests,  agriculture, and food waste. You can join Project Gigaton by submitting your own emissions target, or by submitting goals that fall in one or more of the six pillars. Links to join can be found at: www.walmartsustainabilityhub.com/project-gigaton

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