Walmart, the largest company in the U.S., is famous for rolling back their prices, but seem to be having some trouble rolling back their greenhouse gas emissions like they promised. A report was recently released by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) called “Walmart’s Assault on the Climate: The Truth Behind One of the Biggest Climate Polluters and Slickest Greenwashers in America.” The report by author Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher for the ILSR, exposes how the corporate giant, that is Walmart, has not lived up to its environmentally friendly public relations.
The report illustrates how Walmart has failed to reduce climate emissions. In 2005, Walmart set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero, yet eight years later, their emissions are up 14 percent to 21 million metric tons per year. On top of that, Walmart has not fully incorporated all their major sources of climate pollution in their operations, including ignoring shipping emissions and emissions from factories overseas.
The company also lags behind other retailers in shifting to renewable power. Walmart only uses Green power towards Four percent of their electricity rate versus other retailers like Whole Foods and Staples that use Green power for over 100 percent of total electricity use, which means they produce more renewable energy than they use!
Not only has Walmart failed to make many of its sustainable goals over the past few years, they have also contributed significantly to politicians who side against the environment. The report says that Walmart and the Walton family, who are majority stock owners, gave more than half their political contributions to members of congress with a League of Conservation Voters Scorecard of less than 30, which means the member voted against the environment 70 percent of the time!
So not only is Walmart telling the public how important it is to become sustainable and fight climate change but then fail to act on these words, they are also strongly influencing the American political system by pumping money to candidates and lawmakers who support projects like Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline and continued subsidies to Big Oil.
In response to this revelation of the environmental shortcomings of Walmart, a number of environmental organizations have written a public letter calling on the company to pick up the slack when it comes to environment friendly and sustainable business practices. The groups who signed the letter include:
- Sierra Club
- The Rainforest Action Network
- Labor Network for Sustainability
- Institute for Policy Studies
- Institute for Local Self-Reliance
- Fuse Washington
- Friends of the Earth
- Energy Action Coalition
- Chesapeake Climate Action Network
It’s not that Walmart isn’t doing anything sustainable, in fact, due to Walmart’s pure size, it has a larger influence than other retailers on sustainability issues. However, due to Walmart’s gigantic size, they also should be held to a higher level of responsibility. The issue here is that although Walmart has made great strides in incorporating sustainable features to their stores and keeping emissions rising slowly as they expand, they have not stuck to their promises or met their environmental responsibility. Hopefully, the incredible wealth of a company like Walmart will take the time to support the people and the environment it sets its heavy foundation upon.
Image Source Walmart Corporate /Flickr