The 2015 Paris climate deal is driving the implementation of energy consumption and emission reduction targets across all sectors of society. The Retail sector faces particular challenges in reducing their impact, due to the prevalence of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), narrow profit margins, split incentives between building owners and tenants, and the advent of online ordering through web-based shops. Therefore, Ecomatters started the Climate Neutral SMEs initiative for the Retail sector in 2018, which specifically focuses on aiding SMEs in their carbon reduction transitions. Together with the industry organisation INretail, the municipality of Utrecht, and our funder the Redevco Foundation, we will challenge the status quo and speed-up the transition to a carbon neutral Retail sector.
The Climate Neutral SMEs pilot project supported 10 SMEs directly by developing a climate neutral plan (i.e. plan towards net zero CO2 emissions) for each of them. For this purpose, a calculation module has been developed that can be used to asses utility consumption rates and calculate CO2 emissions. The module is supported by a suite of sustainability measures, which can be directly implemented by the participants. The aim of this project is to have a good insight in the opportunities and barriers around becoming climate neutral, and create actionable pathways for participants. The pilot has also designed a number of practical insights on 11 different topics (lighting, heating, cooling, building envelope, etc), which are geared towards enabling retailers to make informed decisions.
The three main results of the project are:
- The list of barriers, with larger and smaller obstacles, which inhibit the transition towards a climate neutral society and more specifically the retail sector.
- Practical insights and case study for retailers that want to save money on utility costs and reduce their climate impact.
- A certification scheme to acknowledge companies that are working on reducing their climate impact, and who have managed to achieve a lot already.
On the 16th of November 2018 the project team has hosted an event to present the pilot project outcomes to a larger audience. The event was hosted at the municipality of Utrecht, and started with a keynotes from Lot van Hooijdonk (city councilor responsible for the energy transition and sustainability in Utrecht), Margreet van Gastel (ambassador energy transition for the Dutch Enterprise Agency), and Matthijs Sienot (member of Dutch lower chamber of parliament). Each of them gave their perspective on sustainability in the retail sector. Their collective experience provided a broad perspective on the topic and how it fits within the larger societal challenge.
After the inspiration session the audience was informed about the results of the Climate Neutral SMEs pilot. The developed climate neutral plans provide solid insights in the challenges and opportunities around reducing the climate impact of individual retailers. The associated climate neutral plans provide solid ways forward the participating companies. Afterwards the identified barriers have been presented to Matthijs Sienot for inclusion in the national discussions around emission reduction strategies.
During the event the first Climate Certificate has been awarded to Wildenberg Ynformal by Jan Meerman (director industry organisation INretail). Wildenberg Ynformal will be certified from 2019 onwards as a Climate Efficient Company.
The event was concluded with a call to action to mobilize the participants on developing a Green Deal covenant for the retail sector in 2019. This should help drive collective action towards furthering impact reduction in the retail sector.
The pictures below provide impressions of the event itself.