The boss of Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco on Wednesday called on the country’s political parties, ahead of an expected general election in 2024, to stand by their net zero commitments and give businesses more confidence to invest.
Speaking at the Reuters IMPACT conference in London, Tesco CEO Ken Murphy said green innovation in the food industry could help cut costs and carbon emissions while also boosting UK food security.
“That’s why it’s critical that political parties stand by their net zero commitments and the timelines, and put food system innovation at the heart of the growth agenda,” he said.
Murphy warned that levels of investment in the UK remain well below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, and said government and industry must work together to enable large-scale innovation.
“It is positive that the government has funds available for innovation, such as the farming innovation fund but … we’re lagging competitors in Europe and in Asia, not to mention the United States.”
Britain’s Conservative government is committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
However, prime minister Rishi Sunak has signalled his government could delay or even jettison some green policies that impose direct costs on consumers.
Tesco, which has a 27 per cent share of Britain’s grocery market, has a plan for its operations to hit a net zero carbon target by 2035 by using renewable energy, cutting plastic and encouraging more sustainable diets.
It is promising net zero carbon emissions by 2050 across its operations as well as those generated by the products it sells and its supply chains.
Many environmental campaigners are sceptical about the willingness of major companies to cut emissions, seeing it as more of a public relations exercise. But large companies say they can make a difference due to their sheer size.