Co-ops unite to demand government climate action

Co-ops across the UK have called on the government to support their environmental initiatives in the run-up to COP26. 

The franchises have told ministers to ensure they can slash their greenhouse gas emissions without being “undercut.”  

They said in a joint statement: “Because we are co-operatives, we are striving to do what is required. 

“We are tired of being undercut by competitors on environmental and ethical standards. 

“This has to stop. It’s not fair to punish those who are taking action while other businesses put profit over planet.” 

The requests include a “level playing field” that encourages businesses to achieve net zero, mandatory end-to-end carbon footprint reports and simplified climate guidance for companies. 

The statement also demands the government support producers as they transition to an eco-friendly supply chain, alongside increased investment in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for environmental initiatives.  

READ MORE: Unite hails ‘inflation-busting’ pay rise for Co-op drivers

A report submitted by Co-operatives UK reveals that 66 per cent of member-owned businesses are taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions and one in five have net-zero goals.  

The Central England Co-op has reduced its refrigeration gas emissions by 69 per cent since 2010 while the East England Co-op has upgraded its refrigeration units to cut its carbon emissions of 25 per cent.  

West Yorkshire-based Suma Wholefoods has hit carbon neutrality thanks to its operations sourcing 100 per cent green energy. 

Meanwhile, Glasgow Co-op Green City Wholefoods has been testing an electric trike for greener delivery methods. 

The groups said that despite the promising results of the survey, further steps must be taken.  

“We all have a role to play but government must lead by legislating, regulating and incentivising so that every business, not just the usual ones, step up,” Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells said. 

“We’ve been reporting on our end-to-end carbon footprint on our journey to becoming a net zero business by 2040. 

“We’re calling on government to make reporting mandatory for all large businesses and I’m encouraged to see others from across the industry making the same suggestion.” 

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