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The Wine Society pledges to hit net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040

Published:  08 November, 2021

The Wine Society is undertaking an ambitious project to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its business and supply chain by 2040 as part of its mission to be the most ethical and responsible wine retailer in the world.

The membership group announced the project while the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26 is taking place in Glasgow.

Next year ,The Wine Society will publish its new sustainability strategy, which will include a net-zero roadmap which sets out how it will mobilise its business around taking action now and hitting interim GHG emission reduction targets along the way.

The Wine Society currently obtains 25% of its power from solar panels and its forthcoming new warehouse will be fitted with further solar panels. There will also be charge points for an electric van fleet in place by 2028.

It revealed that by the end 2023 The Wine Society will take action to be a certified carbon-neutral business, having undertaken short-term measures to reduce its energy consumption and emissions, move to 100% renewable or green energy and offset any remaining emissions from its direct operations through an accredited scheme.

It also said that by the end of 2028 it would have reduced the GHG emissions associated with its own direct operations to as close to zero as possible. This covers its offices, storage and company-owned van deliveries. It also stated that this will happen whilst still remaining certified carbon neutral and purchasing 100% of the energy needs that it can’t generate itself from renewable or green sources.

The Wine Society also committed to being certified net zero across its business and supply chain by the end 2040.

It said this “highly ambitious target” covers its entire GHG footprint, from how grapes are grown through to how wine is made, transported and consumed by its members.

Steve Finlan, chief executive officer, said: “Like our members, we at The Society care deeply about these issues. We have been in business for nearly 150 years and want to flourish for the next 150. To do this, we need to help make wine – from the vineyard to the glass – more sustainable.”

Simon Mason, head of wine sustainability and due diligence added: “Our buyers are hearing directly from our growers the impacts of climate change, be it subtle temperature shifts or more dramatic fires and floods. Producers we have dealt with for generations are experiencing unprecedented conditions that threaten their livelihoods. Many wineries and producers have begun to take positive action, but our members tell us they struggle to make informed decisions given the myriad standards and certifications worldwide.”

He added that the organisation would be working in a collaborative manner with growers, shippers, agents and members to make “meaningful change.”

The society said it is working with industry-leading sustainability consultancy, Sancroft, and has also appointed Dom de Ville to the newly created role of director of sustainability and social impact, who will be taking up the reins in December.

“We are under no illusion of the task ahead. Much current scientific thinking suggests that it will be very hard to get to net zero in the agricultural sector, perhaps harder than in any other sector,” said Dom de Ville.

“It will require revolutionising many winemaking practices, working together to find new ways to reduce emissions, capture carbon and enhance biodiversity in and around vineyards.”

Earlier this year, it reported a surge in both memberships and sales. The business said more than one million parcels of wine were packed and delivered in the last financial year, around a 30% increase on 2019, boosted by people staying at home signing up to The Wine Society “in droves”.