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Climate change: moving beyond carbon tunnel vision

Carbon has become the symbol of the fight for the environment. However, in light of this challenge, there are many others, often much less highlighted...

Reducing carbon emissions, carbon neutrality, carbon offsetting... Carbon has become the symbol of the fight for the environment. And faced with this challenge, which is indeed major, has media coverage, is documented… we've almost overlooked the other issues, which are just as crucial. We are referring to the concept of "carbon tunnel vision", coined by the researcher Jan Konietzko in 2021.

Three key points

"Carbon tunnel vision" is an approach that overlooks the other planetary boundaries.

The environmental issues are interconnected: acting on one can adversely affect the others.

DECATHLON has committed to adopting a holistic approach by attacking it on several fronts. .
The company has put in place tools and initiatives, making its teams accountable and managing its climate action.

Are we overdoing it to reduce the carbon footprint? Let's take stock.

You have to admit that targeting your efforts on carbon presents numerous advantages: the scientific community has data and tools to act upon this lever, and the consequences of our actions are relatively easy to measure. Well, not quite easy… let's just say that carbon benefits from having metrics and methods that allow us to measure the consequences of the actions put in place. That is why companies and governments naturally focused on this issue.

However, there is obviously a flip side to this. By concentrating lots of resources, time, energy… on the carbon issue, there is a risk of neglecting the other  planetary boundaries, which are just as vital. Because all these issues are interconnected, acting upon one of these affects the others, some of which could be harmful.
We can refer to this as a transfer impact. Let's take the example of the decarbonisation of our supply chain. Increasing the share of our renewable energies in our energy mix would seem, on the face of it, an excellent way to reduce our impact. But if we only rely on wind power or hydroelectric..., how would biodiversity be impacted?Yes, it's complicated, making it necessary to quantify, assess, measure… each of our actions.

We could also mention the development of electric batteries, in particular, to increase the share of electric bikes (ideally instead of a car). Even though these batteries have their strengths in climate change terms, they can have harmful social and environmental impacts... The extraction of rare earth metals required for manufacturing batteries brings crucial issues, such as ethical and environmental concerns, to the fore.

Subsequently, the challenge for the company is to find ethical solutions. It's then up to the consumer to choose between one or the other in the most informed way possible.

Climate change: moving beyond carbon tunnel vision

What is DECATHLON doing to move beyond this carbon tunnel vision?

The goal:adopt a holistic approach.

The company is working on several projects:
- plastic pollution :
We have signed up to an approach to eliminate single-use plastic since 2019 to ensure that all these plastics disappear from our products by 2026. We are also working on developing a methodology to calculate the impact of "plastic" aimed at setting ourselves reduction targets along with a trajectory.

- biodiversity : In February 2020, DECATHLON signed the 10 principles of the "Companies invested in nature — act4nature France" initiative, such as:
- integrate biodiversity into the company's strategy,
- talk to all stakeholders about our impacts and actions,
- assess the different components of biodiversity that concern us,
- firstly avoid, then reduce and as a last resort, offset our impacts,
- publicly report on our action plans, etc.

The aim is to find a balance between three imperatives:
1. Adaptable: be capable of evolving depending on technological progress and/or changes in context.
2. Open: avoid putting problems into silos and support a holistic approach.
3. Take action: able to make decisions and act concretely.

The challenge remains to not sacrifice one of these points for the benefit of another. It is not about backing out of making decisions, but more about making well-informed decisions based on current knowledge, while being aware of the limitations of the assessment of certain data.

And what if… we considered a carbon budget?

In the same way, a company has a financial budget, it could also set itself a carbon budget.Each team would have a carbon budget adjusted to the product type sold. Let us revisit the bike intended for commuting: would it be possible to consider it as “good carbon”? Will the sale of this bike have prevented other carbon emissions?

We could make the connection with climate dividends: the aim for the company, other than its Sales Turnover, would be to “receive” climate dividends. It could impact the allocation of investment in the company, providing an idea of its utility…

There is a lot at stake here.. It is not "only" about being concerned for the state of the planet but also about guaranteeing the longevity of companies' business activity. What will sports activity look like 20 or 30 years from now? And what if tomorrow sports activity locations were no longer available?

To find out more about DECATHLON's commitments

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Our environmental challenges

Biodiversity, climate and plastic pollution in the ocean: 3 issues that DECATHLON are working on in particular. Why these? How?

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What do "planetary boundaries" refer to?

Several of these have already been crossed. Let's unpack this.

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Our commitment to the oceans

With single-use plastic accounting for 60% of marine pollution, Decathlon is committed to achieving zero single-use plastic by 2026.

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Biodiversity and DECATHLON

What is the link between our company and biodiversity? A lot more than you would imagine at first sight! We explain in full transparency.

What action plan is needed to reduce absolute CO2 eq emissions?

What action plan is needed to reduce absolute CO2 eq emissions?

DECATHLON commits to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 42% by 2030 from a 2021 base year. Decathlon also commits to reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emissions 42% within the same timeframe.