The world’s biggest retailer has an outsize impact on the planet’s carbon emissions – and it wants it to be for the better.

Walmart is enormous. Australians love to bang on about ‘the big two’ but Coles and Woolies have nothing on the American retailer that sells everything from guns to gummi bears.

So, when the hypermarket chain alters the way it sources energy, it has an outsize impact on the world’s carbon emissions. This week, Walmart announced a groundbreaking collaboration with Schneider Electric, who’ll join to help suppliers adopt renewable energy.

Dubbed the Gigaton PPA (GPPA) Program is designed to educate those suppliers – over 2,300 of them from 50 nation states – about renewable energy purchases and accelerate renewable energy adoption by participating suppliers through aggregate power purchase agreements .

The program directly supports Walmart’s Project Gigaton, which aims to avoid one gigaton (one billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from Walmart’s global value chain by 2030. Suppliers have reported a cumulative 230 million metric tons of avoided emissions since 2017 – more than 20% of the goal – through energy, waste, packaging, agriculture, forests, and product use and design.

“The Gigaton PPA Program is the kind of innovation-in-action needed to help our suppliers take the next step towards low-carbon emissions, helping to build a more sustainable future for our communities,” said Zach Freeze, senior director, Sustainability at Walmart. “Through Schneider Electric’s work with our suppliers, the program aims to democratise access to renewable energy, and accelerate its use with our supplier base.”

Schneider Electric has been brought on board to engage participating Walmart suppliers and facilitate a multi-phase education and project selection process to help suppliers move towards renewable energy group buys.

“It is our honour to work with Walmart on this revolutionary program,” said Steve Wilhite, Senior Vice President, Schneider Electric. “The company is demonstrating significant leadership by increasing access to utility-scale renewable energy opportunities for their suppliers as part of the Project Gigaton ambition. The GPPA program aims to bring a significant amount of new wind and solar to the grid at a time when climate action is most urgent.”

Improving the sustainability performance of supply chains is the next frontier in corporate responsibility. Once companies have optimised the energy usage and carbon footprint of their own business, they are increasingly turning to the performance of their own suppliers. Multinational tech companies such as Apple have previously been criticised for continuing to contractors whose activities are a shade more brown than green.

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