Ecofys supports Belgian arm of Lidl with climate strategy

14 July 2017

Energy and environment consultants Ecofys have advised Lidl on the climate strategy of their Belgian wing. The supermarket chain hopes the support will see their carbon emissions fall dramatically.

Lidl Belgium is able to track its carbon footprint over time, enabling the supermarket to set new targets to improve its emissions statistics, thanks to the completion of an advisory project undertaken by consultants from Ecofys. Lidl’s regional entity now claims it holds a leading position in the international climate arena, thanks to the science-based targets the energy strategy overhaul has enabled, while also stating the chain’s commitment to reducing its climate impact has been renewed, as it seeks to turn the data gleaned into a concrete action plan.

Lidl are in a period of international expansion. Having pledged in 2014 to open 30 new stores a year in the UK, the super-discounters announced earlier this year they planned to launch as many as 100 stores in the United States by the end of 2018, following the launch of their first US locales in 2017. In the face of concerns raised at the level of emissions this expansion will cause however, Lidl has reaffirmed its commitment to balance this growth with a cut in its global emissions. In Belgium, this led to the company drafting in Ecofys, who are at the heart of a number of sustainability projects across Europe, particularly in the Benelux region, notably working to support the Dutch government’s assessment of energy yields from offshore windfarms.

Ecofys supports Belgian arm of Lidl with climate strategy

The Ecofys analysis of Lidl’s activities along its complete supply chain revealed the largest challenge the discount retailer faces is to drive down the emissions of its supply chain, which form the largest part of Lidl Belgium’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Analysts from the professional services group assessed energy and material consumption rates of Lidl’s stores, offices, distribution centres and vehicles – including those involved in employee commuting, customer travel and waste collection – with the comprehensive analysis being compiled into an impact scan of Lidl’s purchased goods and services, and the energy use of its sold products.

Ecofys, which joined the energy practice of professional services firm Navigant in 2016, is also partnering research by the Generation Foundation project, requiring the consultancy to assist enquiries into carbon pricing mechanisms over a three year study. The research, which is aimed at considering billing businesses for emissions along their value chains, seeks to deliver a number of quantitative insights into how a carbon pricing mechanism could help limit global warming to 1.5°C, a target of the Paris Agreement. If carbon pricing relating to the supply chain is likely to become a key climate policy of the future, Ecofys have stood Lidl in good stead to face the changes.

Commenting on the role of the firm, Lidl Belgium’s Head of Sustainability, Philippe Weiler, said, “Ecofys has been a crucial partner in the development of our climate strategy. We are very satisfied with the collaboration with Ecofys… [They] helped us in understanding the full carbon impact of our business and in developing meaningful yet ambitious science based targets. This process allowed us to create buy-in across all departments. Now we can start fighting climate change as one organisation, together with all our 7.000 employees.”


More news on


Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.