Australian retailers Kmart Group, Ikea Australia and Officeworks have today announced their support for a new UN-backed global climate change initiative – the Race to Zero Breakthroughs: Retail Campaign. 

The retailers have pledged their support to accelerate a movement in the retail industry in Australia to drive climate action and encourage other retailers to set out their plans to achieve 1.5 degree aligned carbon reduction targets. 

Recognising the power that the retail sector has to impact consumer choices, suppliers, producers, and manufacturers across various economic sectors, the campaign acts as an rallying call for retailers to commit to four ongoing requirements: 

  • Pledge to reach net-zero as soon as possible (and by 2050 latest);
  • Within 12 months of joining, explain what actions their business will take;
  • Take immediate action towards achieving their set aims;
  • Commit to report publicly - at least annually - against targets set.

Kmart Group MD Ian Bailey said addressing climate change collaboratively is the best strategy moving forward.

"Climate change and the resulting impacts are among the greatest challenges we’ll face in our lifetime and, in collaboration with everyone who is committed to this cause, we hope to achieve a net zero future.

"I know we don’t have all of the answers right now, however what I do know is that if we join forces together we can work our way through this very complicated challenge and make things right," he said. 

The Race to Zero campaign is led in Australia by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSDAustralia) in collaboration with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA). 

The organisations will work to encourage retailers in all sectors to embrace the Race to Zero. 

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said now is the time for retailers to take significant action.

"Report after report has demonstrated that Australian consumers want this change.

"Having navigated the global pandemic, Australian retailers are now moving onto the next big global disruption – climate change.

"Unlike previous disruptions that have caught some retailers off guard, we’ve had plenty of notice about the need for climate action – the science is clear, the case for change is compelling and our members are acting, with 40% of Australia’s retail trade already covered by net-zero commitments.

"The opportunity to play a lead role in the Race to Zero campaign in retail will galvanise our intent, connect our members with international best practice and send a signal to the global supply chain that Australian retail is ready to play its part in addressing climate change," he said. 

The Race to Zero campaign will also provide more transparency from local brands on how they’re supporting climate change, and how purchasing from those brands will collectively help the country to reach net-zero emissions.

BCSDAustralia CEO Andrew Petersen encouraged retailers of all kinds to get involved with the campaign. 

"With this positive step by IKEA Australia, Officeworks and the Kmart Group, we want to encourage other Australian retailers representing different sectors (e.g. food and agriculture retailers, fashion, electronics, house furniture, office supplies) to start the climate recovery effort that is already underway in other sectors in Australia across the globe, adopt decarbonisation roadmaps tailored to local contexts as proposed by the ARA, and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

"Through this initiative we begin to bridge the gap and work with Australia’s retail sector to a tipping point to accelerate a whole-economy transition for a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future," he said. 

Australian retailers can join the Race to Zero effort by setting science-based targets, working to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and committing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

The Breakthroughs campaign helps retailers achieve these goals by providing sector-specific guidance, access to networks and best practices.

The campaign is also working with key retail association partners to drive awareness about the Race to Zero, share tools and resources, and accelerate the adoption of net-zero roadmaps.

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