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After a Decade, Walmart Shows Little Progress on Sustainability

| Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Nov 17, 2015 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at
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Rebecca Toews

Ten years after pledging to become an environmental leader, Walmart still relies heavily on dirty energy and derives just 3% of its U.S. power from its renewable energy projects and purchases.

With Walmart executives preparing to mark the 10-year anniversary of the company’s sustainability pledge at an event Tuesday, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) issued the following statement and updated figures on the company’s environmental impact.

“Walmart has failed to live up to the commitment it made a decade ago,” said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher at ILSR and author of the report, Walmart’s Dirty Energy Secret.  “Walmart remains one of the biggest corporate climate polluters.  It still relies on dirty coal-generated electricity for much of its power, and lags far behind many other retailers in making the shift to renewable energy.  Walmart’s self-reported greenhouse gas emissions are as high as ever, and these figures do not account for some of the most polluting parts of the company’s operations.”

Renewable Energy — Despite pledging in 2005 to shift to 100 percent renewable power, Walmart today derives just 3 percent of its U.S. power from its wind, solar, and other renewable energy projects and special purchases, according information in the company’s 2015 disclosure report to the CDP.  This is down from 4 percent in 2012.

Reliance on Coal — Walmart is one of the nation’s largest users of coal-fired electricity, deriving over 40 percent of its U.S. electricity from coal, according to an ILSR report.   Walmart’s heavy reliance on this dirty source of energy pumps more than 8 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the air each year.  That accounts for 37 percent of the company’s total reported global greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Pollution — Far from becoming a leader on climate, Walmart’s is producing more climate pollution today than it was in 2005, according to the company’s CDP disclosures.  These self-reported figures, moreover, leave out large segments of the company’s operations.  Walmart, for example, does not disclose the climate pollution from its huge global shipping operations, which have grown substantially in the last decade, according to an ILSR analysis.

Dirty Energy Politicians — Walmart is one of the largest corporate contributors to political campaigns and its donations heavily favor candidates who support fossil fuel interests and oppose legislation to reduce climate pollution and shift to clean power.  In the 2011-2012 election cycle, more than half of the Congressional candidates supported by Walmart received a 100% Dirty Energy Money score from Oil Change International.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a 40-year-old national nonprofit research and educational organization. ILSR’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support strong, community rooted, environmentally sound and equitable local economies. For interviews surrounding this announcement, please contact Rebecca Toews: 612-808-0689.