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Scotch Whisky Association receives UN recognition for sustainability commitments

Published:  20 September, 2021

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has become the UK’s first food and drink trade association to be recognised as a Race to Zero partner.

Race to Zero is a UN-backed global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors to take immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

The partnership, which was approved by the UN High Level Climate Action Champions, recognises the Scotch whisky industry’s commitment to net zero global emissions.

The SWA said it had achieved partner status because of the Scotch whisky industry’s commitment to environmental sustainability, which is set out in the Scotch Whisky industry’s Sustainability Strategy.

The strategy, which was launched in January this year, commits the sector to reaching net zero in its operations by 2040, five years ahead of the Scottish Government’s target and 10 years ahead of the UK Government’s target.

It also includes targets to drive down the industry’s environmental impact in key areas including water use, packaging and responsible land use.

Scottish whisky companies can now join Race to Zero through the SWA by publicly pledging to achieve net zero as soon as possible, producing a clear plan for how they will achieve these targets and contribute their share in the race to zero.

“This recognises the hard work and significant investments that Scotch Whisky producers are making to transition away from fossil fuel use and to drive up the use of renewable energy in order to reach net zero. It also recognises how successful the industry is proving to be at working collaboratively towards net zero and in improving our environmental impact in the round,” said Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA.

"Our Race to Zero partnership status is something to celebrate as COP26 approaches, where we are looking forward to showcasing the Scotch Whisky industry’s environmental sustainability achievements and ambitions.”

Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Action Champion, said: “It’s great to welcome this industry into the campaign, and I commend the actions they are taking now to meet their ambitious target of achieving net zero by 2040.”

Last year the Scotch whisky launched its Diversity and Inclusivity Charter in a series of events led by the SWA.