REI Co-Op’s targets for cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions have been approved by the Science Based Target initiative, the outdoor retailer said in a company post last week.
Its near-term targets call for a 47% cut in its direct emissions under scopes 1 and 2 by 2030 against a base year of 2019. Ultimately, REI committed to cutting 90% of its emissions under scopes 1, 2 and 3, and reaching overall net-zero emissions across its value chain by 2050.
As it eyes cuts to its scope 3 footprint, REI aims to have 41% of suppliers by emissions commit to adopting science-based targets by 2025.
"We believe businesses have an urgent responsibility to address the climate crisis and invest in the communities in which they operate," Chris Speyer, REI’s chief merchandising officer, said in a statement. "The co-op is proud to retail a huge number of brands that share this sense of responsibility, and we will continue collaborating with our partners to reduce our collective impacts."
In its supply chain, REI pointed to a three-year clean energy agreement it signed with solar energy company Sol Systems and Nester Hosiery, a sock maker that is one of the retailer’s largest manufacturers.
The deal provides Nester Hosiery and REI with 11,000-plus renewable energy credits sourced from solar energy installations in North Carolina. REI said that credits “represent a big step forward, as they ensure one of the co-op's key suppliers gets 100% renewable electricity.”
The company used a similar approach in its international supply chain. REI recently purchased 25,000 credits from renewable energy projects in Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines through clean energy procurement specialist Powertrust.
REI called the purchase “the next step in the co-op's journey to decarbonize product manufacturing,” which the company said would spark new energy products and reduce manufacturing emissions in countries where it sources products.
This summer, SBTi — a consortium of organizations that works with corporations to set emissions targets — reported a steep increase in companies setting goals for cutting their emissions.
Yet many companies have only begun setting targets, including in the emission-heavy fashion industry.
Some estimates put the greenhouse gas footprint of fashion as an industry at 8% or 10% of the world’s total. Environmental advocacy group Stand.earth said the fashion industry’s progress on climate has been “insufficient and extremely disappointing” to date.
The organization gave almost every player it graded — 43 in all — a “C”-level score or lower. Only one, H&M, scored as high as a B-. REI received an overall score of C- from Stand.earth, which was higher than the majority of those scored.
The grade from Stand.earth came out months before the retailer announced SBTi’s sign-off on its climate goals. Targets are factored into those scores, but the majority is determined from concrete actions taken to reduce emissions, according to Rachel Kitchin, a corporate climate campaigner with Stand.earth. The organization looks specifically at things like financial support and data sharing with manufacturers, steps toward circular production, and reducing emissions in their materials.
“Having an SBTi [target] approved is a great step for them,” Kitchin said of REI in an interview. “It means they need to focus their minds on how they're going to achieve those cuts.”
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