REI Co-op will more than halve its carbon footprint by 2030, join Climate Neutral and join the 1 Trillion Trees Initiative
REI Co-op has announced it will complete a 14-year commitment to be carbon neutral in its operations in 2020 and launched an ambitious new climate platform that will see the co-op more than halve its carbon footprint over the next decade – even as the company anticipates future growth in size and revenue.
“The climate crisis is the greatest threat to the future of life outdoors and to REI’s business. The science is clear about what we, as a society, need to do to change that future. The world must halve its greenhouse gasses emissions by 2030, so that’s where REI – and the broader outdoor community – must lead,” said REI Co-op President and CEO Eric Artz. “Going forward, we’re embedding the impact of doing business, and the cost, into our business model.”
For more than 80 years, REI has focused its impact work at the intersection of people and planet. The co-op has actively worked to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions since 2006 when then-CEO Sally Jewell declared that REI would be climate neutral in its operations by 2020.
The co-op was one of the first retailers to measure and report its greenhouse gas emissions, and over the years has prioritised projects like green building certifications, generated its own energy through solar arrays, launched industry-wide sustainability standards for all products sold, and invested more than US$100m/£77.6m into stewarding outdoor spaces that support recreation but also can provide critical carbon sequestration.
The announcement is a springboard to the next stage of that work. Beginning with 2020’s emissions, the co-op is formally joining Climate Neutral and will hold itself financially accountable for each unit of carbon it emits in its own operations – expected to be a quarter-million tons of carbon in 2020.
Going forward, running a healthy business will require the co-op to continue to shrink its footprint. As a retailer, the co-op’s broader footprint does not just encompass its own brands and operations, but also the emissions embedded in products from more than 1,000 brands it sells. REI will work with this diverse group of brands, mostly small businesses, to create shared solutions.
As the co-op works to shrink that footprint as much as possible, it will invest in and advocate for solutions that will help the co-op – and the planet – accelerate progress. That means investing in projects that actively pull carbon out of the atmosphere, like planting more trees in cities and suburbs, reforestation and active forest management; and advocating for national policies that reduce future emissions, like cleaner transportation infrastructure and clean energy solutions.
As a cooperative, REI is built around the power of coming together for a common goal. As it has frequently done in the past, the co-op will transparently share progress, and open-source what it learns along the way.
As the co-op works to reduce its footprint, it will continue to pursue recycled and lower impact materials in its manufacturing, efficiencies in its supply chain, the elimination of excess packaging for itself and its brand partners and opportunities to invest in renewable energy projects. It will have to reexamine every aspect of its business and will invest in natural climate solutions to offset the carbon it’s not yet able to drawdown.
REI has also committed to planting 1 million trees by 2030 as part of the global 1 Trillion Trees initiative, which aims to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees around the world over the next decade. And the co-op has published a new advocacy platform outlining its climate policy priorities for 2021 and beyond.
The co-op’s approach is rooted in science and is aligned to the latest guidance from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states global emissions must be reduced by 55% by 2030 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
“I still believe that as people, as brands, and as a member-owned co-op, we can, and must, collectively make a difference in the long-term health of the planet,” wrote Artz. “We must act now, for the generations that follow.”