In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed John Lewis Partnership’s website, Annual Report 2020 and Ethics & Sustainabiilty Progress Report 2019/20, looking for information on what the company was doing to reduce its climate change impact. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:
1 a) For the company to show that it has a reasonable understanding of its areas of climate impact and how to ameliorate them, and appears to be taking steps to do so
The Annual Report highlighted carbon emissions as an issue the company was focussing on, particularly emissions from transportation. It stated that the company was "moving to renewable energy sources across our organisation". The company discussed renewable energy in its operations and decarbonisation through investment in greener techologies.
It referenced emissions from livestock and from downstream suppliers. On livestock it stated "Where we cannot remove the use of carbon from our operations, for example our livestock, we will generate additional renewable energy and/or capture carbon to bring us to net zero." It also mentioned the need to reduce absolute energy use, and gave examples of policies to do so.
It also made reference to the company's use of HFC greenhouse gases used in refridgeration.
1 b) For the company to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place
The company planned to have a net zero transport fleet by switching HGVs to biomethane by 2028. The company stated it was "phasing out core refridgeration units containing HFC greenhouse gases".
1 c) For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding its climate actions.
No evidence of the above was found.
2) For the company to report its scope 1&2 emissions annually
The company's Annual Report gave scope 1 and scope 2 CO2e emissions data for the company for the years 2018 and 2019.
3) For the company to report scope 3 emissions, covering at least tier one suppliers (all greenhouse gases, which means reporting in CO2e, not just CO2).
The company's scope 3 data in its Annual Report covered "water, business travel, waste to landfill and transmission and distribution losses from purchased electricity". This did not appear to cover any emissions from suppliers.
4) For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.
The company had a target of net zero emissions by 2050. Considering the above statement on carbon capture in agriculture, this target was considered to include offsetting.
The company's Ethics & Sustainability Report stated the company had an interim target to reduce absolute emissions across the entire operations by 34% by 2028 compared to a 2018 baseline. A second target stated that the company aimed for 100% renewable certified electricity procured by 2028. However the first target did not explicitly state that it covered all scope 1 and scope 2 emissions and was therefore not counted.
Overall the company was considered to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main climate impacts and ways it planned to reduce them. It reported its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions annually. The company had some targets however these were not deemed sufficient as it did not clearly state that the net zero target would not include offsetting, nor did the absolute target clearly stated that it would cover full scopes 1 & 2.
Furthermore the company did not commit to fully eradicating HFCs. It stated it would do so for "core" refridgeration" by 2028, however it did not clarify what it meant by core, and 2028 was 3 years later than the phase out date previously suggested by the government. As the need for elimination of HFCs had been well known for some time, an adequate sector-specific policy would have been complete elimination of HFCs from the company's operations.
Therefore the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating and lost a whole mark under Climate Change.