Carbon and climate

As a Group, we recognise that climate change represents a material risk throughout our supply chains and poses challenges to some of our businesses worldwide. However, we also recognise that climate change and the transition to a lower carbon world presents opportunities.

We wholly support policies that are aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit the rise in global temperatures to well below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5˚C.

As a Group, we have an ambition to achieve net zero by 2050 or sooner. Beyond that broad ambition we do not set groupwide climate-related plans or targets. In line with our devolved business model, our businesses set plans and targets that are appropriate to their operations and supply chains. Our businesses are all committed to cutting GHG emissions and several of our businesses have set specific reduction targets.

ABF Sugar, Primark, Twinings Ovaltine and UK Grocery have each set a specific emissions reduction target. Primark has set a target in line with the Science Based Targets initiative (‘SBTi’), while ABF Sugar is in the process of validating their reduction target against the SBTi. We expect this to be completed by the end of the calendar year.

Achieving net zero across ABF by 2050 will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control. However, based on our track record and progress against our plans so far, we are confident in our ability to deliver on this objective.

Reducing GHG emissions

Our businesses are targeting reductions in GHG emissions through carbon reduction plans, energy efficiency and growing their use of renewable energy. ABF Sugar and Primark have transition plans in place.

Energy efficiency has long been a driver of better performance for our Group, and we remain focused on finding ways to produce more from less energy. Much of our electricity is purchased from third-party power generation companies via national grids, and our businesses understand the benefits of transitioning to renewable energy tariffs for their purchased electricity. Many are doing so as soon as it becomes operationally and commercially feasible. In 2022/23, 29% of the electricity we bought came from renewable sources, which is a 62% increase in the amount of purchased renewable electricity compared with last year.

Several of our businesses are also contributing to decarbonisation by exporting renewable energy, contributing 909 gigawatt hours (GWh) this year to national grids.

This year our businesses consumed 21,183 GWh of energy which is a 1% increase compared with last year. Of this total consumed, 58%∆ was derived from renewable sources. These are predominantly biomass fuels from by-products generated as part of the production process within our agricultural based businesses. In the main, the renewable energy we generate comes from bagasse, the renewable plant-based fibrous residue that remains after the extraction of juice from the crushed stalks of sugar cane. Some renewable energy is derived from the anaerobic digestion of a range of waste materials.

Our Scope 1 and 2 (location-based) emissions decreased by 6% this year from 3.11 million tonnes of CO2e to 2.91 million tonnes of CO2e ∆. This decrease has been driven primarily by a reduction in imported electricity and a change in the fuels used on-site.

For more examples of energy efficiency actions, see our Responsibility Report 2023.

Responsibility in action: our supply chains

Our material topics

We recognise the need to understand the ESG issues most relevant to our operations, our industries and our stakeholders.


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