Morrisons targets UK net zero supplies by 2030
Morrisons has pledged to be the first supermarket to be completely supplied by ‘net zero’ carbon British farms by 2030, five years ahead of the market.
Over the next nine years, Morrisons will work with its 3,000 farmers and growers to produce "affordable net zero carbon meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables".
Morrisons expects that the first products to reach net zero carbon status will be eggs as early as 2022, followed by lamb, fruit, vegetables, pork and beef in the years to follow.
UK agriculture currently accounts for 10 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, with new research revealing that two thirds of people consider the environmental impact of the food they eat. The National Farmers Union has asked farmers to work towards a 2040 net zero goal, and other supermarkets are working towards 2035.
Morrisons has its own expert Livestock and Produce Teams, works directly with farmers, and takes meat, fruit and vegetables direct from farms to its 20 fruit, vegetable and meat preparation sites.
This month, Morrisons will start working with a selection of meat and produce farmers - to create net zero carbon farm ‘models’. Together with the farmers they will look at the emissions picture through the whole lifecycle of farm produce - from germination to leaving the farmgate for a Morrisons store. Once a workable blueprint has been established, the models will then be shared with all Morrisons farmers, so that all food can be produced in this net zero carbon way.
The farm models will look at reducing carbon via
- rearing different animal breeds;
- using low food-mile feedstuffs;
- using renewable energy and low emission housing;
- and cutting down fuel and fertiliser use.
They will also look to offset carbon emissions via planting grassland and clover; restoring peatland, improving soil health; planting trees; and seeding hedgerows.
Within agriculture, beef farming is the most carbon intensive - generating 45 per cent of carbon emissions for only five per cent of products sold. Nearly half of this is down to methane produced by cattle. Morrisons will work with its beef farms to use smaller cattle breeds, pick low methane feeds, and look at methane reducing supplements (e.g. seaweed).
As part of the programme, Morrisons will also work with universities, vets, farming and countryside organisations and carbon experts. Morrisons will partner with the NFU to pool farmer knowledge, work with Natural England on planting and water use, and use industry experts to measure and evaluate data.
Morrisons will also work with Harper Adams University, which specialises in agriculture and environmental subjects to set up the world’s first School of Sustainable Farming to offer farming training.
David Potts, Chief Executive of Morrisons, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges for our generation and growing food is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. As British farming’s biggest supermarket customer, we’re in a unique position to guide our farms and help lead changes in environmental practices. It’s years ahead of industry expectations - and an ambitious target - but it’s our duty to do it.”
Environment Secretary, George Eustice MP, said the UK is the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions by 2050 and its farmers will play a key role in achieving the target.
Minette Batters, President of the National Union of Farmers said: “British farming has a key role to play in the nation’s drive to net zero. Our contribution spans three pillars of action - reducing emissions, storing carbon on farmland, and renewables and the bioeconomy. Our members are already playing their part to help achieve the NFU’s ambition of reaching net zero agriculture by 2040 and want to do more. I applaud Morrisons on its commitment and look forward to continuing our good working relationship.”
Patrick Holden, Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust said: “Morrisons has shown real leadership in setting challenging targets for emission reductions and for encouraging their suppliers to produce in more sustainable ways.”
Morrisons net zero carbon UK agriculture target forms part of its plan to become net zero for emissions by 2040, in line with the international Paris Agreement.
Tesco tackles transport and electricity
Tesco is bringing forward its ambition to become net zero in the UK by 2035, and tackling the two biggest sources of emissions – electricity production and transport.
The grocery retail giant is launching a new partnership with renewable energy investor, Low Carbon, that will see three new solar farms in Essex, Anglesey and Oxfordshire which will generate up to 130GWh of energy per year.
The work is part of the retailer’s commitment to use 100 per cent renewable electricity across the Tesco Group by 2030 and will save 30,308 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The current project follows the supermarket’s announcement last year that it would begin sourcing renewable energy from five onshore windfarms, and it is fitting thousands of solar panels across its UK store network, with 60 stores fitted out already.
On the roads, Tesco has rolled out 30 electric delivery vans in Greater London and plans to have a fully electric home delivery fleet by 2028.
Tesco is also rolling out 2,400 charging points for customers across 600 stores, with 400 stores due to be fitted with the chargers by the end of 2020.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.