Accounting for renewable energy
One of our greatest challenges is developing a consistent, transparent approach to procuring and accounting for renewable energy in a global marketplace where local laws and regulations vary significantly. Such regulatory differences have sometimes resulted in vastly different market incentives, not only for renewable energy, but also for the accompanying greenhouse gas credits, renewable or green energy credits and other non-power attributes. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of transparency and integrity with regard to our renewable energy goals, and we are proud to be working with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative at the World Resources Institute to untangle these complex challenges.
Truck size and weight restrictions
In the U.S., logistics is limited by current truck size and weight restrictions, and although we continue to look for new loading patterns and methods, we are reaching our weight and/or volume capacities on almost every load. While we monitor several proposed state bills that may increase those limits, our trucks frequently cross state boundaries; therefore, a nationwide solution would be most effective.
Greenhouse gas reductions
We have made very good progress toward our goal to reduce GHG emissions from our 2005 base of stores, clubs and distribution centers globally, although we are not as far along as we had hoped to be. A 20 percent absolute GHG reduction for this fleet of buildings is an extremely aggressive goal, and one that we knew would be a stretch to achieve in the seven-year time frame we set for ourselves.
We have learned a lot along the way, and we are proud that by the end of 2009, we achieved a 10.61 percent absolute reduction in GHG emissions from our 2005 base of stores, clubs and distribution centers, even with the following challenges.
Some of the barriers we have faced include:
A challenging economic environment. As the economy globally has continued to struggle, Walmart has seen first-hand the struggles of everyday Americans – and citizens the world over – to make ends meet. In our efforts to ensure our operations are contributing to everyday low prices for our customers, it has sometimes been difficult to find and develop low-carbon technologies that meet our ROI requirements.
Retrofitting stores. Walmart is committed to bringing low-cost, healthy and nutritious groceries to the communities we serve, especially those communities that might not otherwise have access to fresh groceries. We believe it is an environmental win to rebuild and retrofit old stores, rather than simply building new ones. In many instances across most of our global markets, as we add grocery and refrigeration to our 2005 fleet of stores and clubs, the energy load for that store increases rather than decreases. Finding enough GHG-reduction projects to offset this growth in energy and refrigerants is often very difficult.
Refrigerant emissions. After purchased electricity, refrigerants are our second-largest source of GHG emissions. We continue to seek to implement both conventional and innovative ways to lower refrigerant emissions.
Technology and expertise. In some of Walmart's global markets, it has been a challenge to procure clean technologies. Likewise, in some markets, the labor force does not have the expertise in GHG reduction. We have been really proud to export technologies and know-how across and between our global markets. For example, the wind turbines used in the Oaxaca, Mexico, wind project were manufactured in the U.S. And much of the LED lighting technology we have implemented across our Central American markets and China was first developed in the U.S., and some are even assembled in the U.S..
Weather. Ironically, more extreme weather patterns – which some scientists link to global climate change – may in some cases hinder our ability to lower energy consumption, and therefore GHG emissions.