Wal-Mart unveils specific, ambitious environmental goals

After weeks of scattered signs and announcements, today Wal-Mart issued a far-reaching set of concrete environmental goals. CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. announced that the company would invest $500 million in technologies to reduce its stores’ greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent in seven years, increase its truck fleet’s fuel efficiency by 25 percent in three years and double it in 10 years, design a 25 percent more energy-efficient store within four years, work to reduce packaging, and pressure its worldwide network of suppliers to follow its lead. Scott even called on Congress to raise the minimum wage. Activists across the U.S. struggled to maintain their cynicism. Said Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, “The reason Wal-Mart’s leadership in this area is so important is that they have the scale and market power to change what is offered, and to change it rapidly.” Alyson Slater of the Global Reporting Initiative was more succinct: “I thought GE was big. But Wal-Mart? Whoa. That’s big.”