Sobeys’ parent company Empire is undertaking “a robust, science-based plan” to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to support Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy – including a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2040.
Empire’s key initiatives, announced last week, will include electrifying delivery vehicles and the fleet, installing rooftop solar panels, upgrading lighting and refrigeration, helping to the supplier community to set science-based targets and the reduction of emissions from fuel sold at service stations.
Adopting science-based targets gives the Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based company and its subsidiary Sobeys a formal plan to reduce its carbon footprint and align with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050.
“At Empire, we know that now is the time to act on the climate crisis. It is by committing to concrete, science-based goals that we will make a difference,” Empire President and CEO Michael Medline said in a statement. “Through the strong partnership and collaboration of our teams, suppliers, customers and communities, we can achieve our shared sustainability goals.”
Empire’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions goals exceed the 1.5°C/net zero trajectory by 2050 set by the Paris Agreement, while its Scope 3 goals are aligned with Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) terms. Scope 1 concerns the company’s direct emissions and Scope 2 the indirect emissions related to its energy consumption. Scope 3 concerns emissions indirectly linked to the company’s value chain, such as goods and services purchased.
Empire’s science goals include the following:
• Scope 1 and 2 (absolute target): Reduce absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to the base year 2019 (targeted minimum annual reduction 5% between 2019 and 2030).
• Scope 3 (target based on supplier engagement): work with a supplier base such that 62% of suppliers, by spend, set science-based reduction targets for their Scope 1 and 2 emissions in five years, and commit to a minimum 28% reduction in emissions from fuel sold by 2030.
• Achieve net zero by 2040 for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
• Achieve net zero for Scope 3 emissions by 2050.
“I’m really excited about the road ahead,” commented Mohit Grover, senior vice president of innovation, sustainability and strategy at Empire. “Today’s announcement is a major step in our journey towards sustainability. We have a solid science plan aligned with global standards. Through our climate work, we will maintain our values and our commitment to sustainability.
Empire said it would embed the commitments into its corporate governance practice through a new Sustainable Business Council launched in fiscal 2023 and including leaders from real estate, supply and logistics, supply and merchandising, and fuel.
Additionally, by the end of FY2023, the company plans to align its external reporting with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, an internationally recognized group used to identify, assess and manage climate-related risks.
Empire’s food retail network, operated through its Sobeys branch, includes more than 1,900 food, drugstore and convenience stores in all 10 provinces under banners such as Sobeys, Safeway , IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, Farm Boy and Lawtons Drugs. The retailer also operates more than 350 gas stations and manages grocery e-commerce operations under the Voilà, Grocery Gateway, IGA.net and ThriftyFoods.com banners.