Helping retailers address climate change with the ARA’s Net-zero Roadmap for Australian retail

With less than 5% of large retailers globally having made a commitment to address climate change, the ARA has an important role to play in helping our sector in Australia understand the steps we can take as we transition to net-zero emissions.  

It is also important that the ARA unites the sector behind a common vision for change. That’s why we are so proud to have launched the ARA’s Net-zero Roadmap for the Australian retail sector, demonstrating our commitment to a sustainable, purpose-led recovery out of Covid-19.

We understand what we need to do. We believe in the science and understand we need to take urgent and decisive action now to overt the worst impacts of climate change, with emissions peaking around 2030 and be net-zero by 2050. 

The ARA’s roadmap provides a framework for how we get there as a sector, building on the exceptional work that our colleagues at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have completed over the past two years in developing their Climate Action Roadmap.  

The ARA has adapted the BRC framework, overlaying sustainability priorities that are important to Australian retailers, consumers and government. The ARA’s roadmap has been developed with the support of a member-led working group, reviewed by leading experts in the transition to net-zero and endorsed by the ARA’s CEO and executive. The roadmap is a live document and will continue to evolve as we progress further down the road.  

Our roadmap provides practical guidance about the suggested decisions, investments and actions that Australian retailers can make, either as they embark upon their sustainability journey or as they accelerate their transition to net-zero emissions. 

We have set aspirational targets we need to achieve by 2030, 2040 and 2050 – in five streams of work, or pathways. These pathways include: 

  • Increasing the quantity and quality of emissions data, to enable data-driven decisions  
  • Building and operating low-emissions, energy efficient stores, warehouses and offices powered by 100% renewable energy 
  • Continuing to improve fuel efficiency and supporting the transition to electric and hydrogen vehicles, for low-carbon logistics 
  • Sourcing products and raw materials in a manner that minimises impacts on the environment and natural resources, and  
  • Embracing the circular economy, working with suppliers to produce more with less, and supporting consumers in the transition to more sustainable consumption. 

Not all aspects of the ARA’s Net-zero Roadmap will be relevant to all retailers: a small family-owned business with a single shopfront and locally sourced products will have fewer actions relevant to their business, in comparison to a national retailer with a large geographic footprint and complex supply chain.

The first step is to review the roadmap and understand your biggest risks and opportunities, in the short-term. Once you’ve done that, look at what systems you’ll need to get started on what you can influence today. Try not to get distracted by the longer-term aspirational targets and actions – it’s important to map our journey out to 2050 but these larger (and more daunting) targets won’t be the immediate priority for most members.

And while we don’t yet have all the answers about how we will manage this transition to net-zero, we hope that this roadmap makes it easier for our members and the Australian retail sector to navigate the journey ahead.  

Click here to download the most recent version of the ARA’s Net-zero Roadmap.

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