In February 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the website of J Sainsbury plc, looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. A questionnaire received from the company in March 2021 was also viewed.
If a company met all required criteria it would receive a best rating. If it met parts 1&2 (impacts and annual reporting CO2e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.
Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:
- For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.
The company stated "We’ve reduced our operational carbon emissions by 42% absolute and 60% relative since 2005/06." It stated "Sainsbury’s became the first UK supermarket to switch to lithium-ion pallet trucks. Initially purchasing 1,200 trucks, which has the potential to save enough energy to power 700 average sized UK homes for 12 month". It stated that 100% of stores would be lit by LED by the end of 2022. It stated that it would switch all fridges to new (and more energy efficient) carbon dioxide (CO2) technology by 2030.
- 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 it’s climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.
Sainsbury's did not appear to be heavily involved in particularly damaging projects, though it did sell petrol.
The company used HFC refigerants, however it made the following statement in its 2020 CPD report 'Since 2009, we have been implementing an annual refrigeration replacement programme, which sees us investing heavily in exchanging HFC refrigeration systems with more efficient or environmentally friendly replacements that operate using natural refrigerants such as CO2. We also made a pledge to switch all our fridges to new (and more energy efficient) carbon dioxide (CO2) technology by 2030, which is well underway; with 29 stores converted in the last year to give a total of 307 to date.'
- For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company).
Sainsbury's listed its Scope 1 and 2 emissions in its annual report.
- To go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products). 0% of emissions were calculated using data obtained from suppliers or value chain partners, however the methodology appeared to draw from the Carbon Trust research and the approach was outlined, for example it stated "Where an emissions factor was not available, a number of averages for product groups were calculated (e.g. average meat).
Sainsbury's went some way towards reporting scope 3 emissions. It listed 14967215 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions from purchased goods and services.
- 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's annual report and financial statements 2020 stated "We engaged with our suppliers on our Net Zero by 2040 plan. Our management team wrote to suppliers asking them to set their own net zero targets and to reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change agreement."
It confirmed that it did not participate in offsetting.
The company adequately met the above requirements, but was a petrol retailer, therefore it received Ethical Consumer’s middle rating for Climate Change.