Retailers Get World-First Program to Reach Net-Zero Emissions

Australia's peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has developed a world-first training program specially designed to help retailers in their transition to net-zero emissions.

Responding to an overwhelming appetite for action across the industry, the ARA Net Zero Accelerator is a two-day workshop featuring Australia's leading retail sustainability experts, helping retailers develop their own Climate Action Plan.

The Accelerator is complemented by a series of on-line learning modules called the Net Zero Essentials and another program specifically designed for small businesses in partnership with the City of Sydney and Greener.

The educational course is the first known series to guide retailers through the foundations of what it means to be net-zero and how to get there, from operations and supply chains, to sustainable consumption and production.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the industry has a pivotal role to play in combating climate change, which is the biggest disrupter to impact the retail sector.

"Retail is well placed to play a positive role in the transition to the low-carbon economy of the future, given our position at the intersection of consumers, suppliers and sector's own operational footprint," Mr Zahra said.

"And our members are leading the way, particularly our large and national retailers who have been on the journey for some time."

"However, there is a large part our sector that is ready to act but doesn't know where to start. That's why we have developed this educational program, which really does offer something for everyone - no matter their size, scale or where they are on their sustainability journey.

"Retail is the largest private employer in the country, employing one in ten workers, and is well positioned to make an impact on more sustainable consumption and production."

This program follows the launch of the ARA's Net-zero Roadmap in December 2021 and the release of its Climate Action Plan at the ARA's inaugural CEO Lunch in May 2022, with a sole focus on sustainability and climate change.

Sustainability core to ARA's Pre-budget Submission

The ARA's net-zero educational program also comes as the ARA outlined a series of recommendations in its Pre-Budget Submission to Treasury.

Some of the 35 recommendations outlined in the ARA's submission include:

  • Help businesses transition to the net-zero, nature-positive, circular economy by collaborating with industry associations to develop new skills standards and deliver new training programs.
  • Reduce energy costs, consumption and emissions, by providing financial incentives targeted at businesses not covered by the Safeguard Mechanism.
  • Help businesses transition to low-carbon freight and logistics (including the uptake of electric vehicles and batteries) with targeted incentives to reduce initial outlay or increase operational costs of alternatives.
  • Accelerate and streamline the phase-out of single-use plastics, by establishing a multi-jurisdictional taskforce to develop a harmonised, national approach that reduces costs and complexity for business.

"It is imperative that retail steps-up in Australia's transition to the net-zero, nature-positive, circular economy of the future," Mr Zahra added.

Businesses can express their interest in the Net Zero educational program here.

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