Setting greenhouse gas emissions targets at Costco.

Vote occurred January 20, 2022.

Since 2015 companies that set science-based targets have reduced their combined emissions by 25%. This exceeds the pace required by the Paris Agreement.1 By setting short- and long-term targets, stakeholders can hold companies accountable and achieve meaningful reductions.

Why its relevant

Palm oil, soy, cattle, cocoa, and pulp and paper in Costco products—all are leading drivers of deforestation and climate change. Costco’s absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions have increased in each reported year since 2016. Costco also has no time-bound plans to measure, disclose, or set targets for its Scope 3 emissions. Based on similar companies, these likely make up 95% of its total emissions.Costco has refused to commit to appropriate emissions reduction by 2030 or to net zero by 2050.

The proposal

Shareholders led by Green Century Capital Management Inc. asked Costco to adopt short-, medium-, and long-term science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, inclusive of emissions from its full value chain. The aim is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner and to effectuate appropriate emissions reductions before 2030.

The outcome

The proposal passed with 70% support from shareholders. Positively, many of the steps Costco is taking—and will take—can have a huge impact on the environment, including tangible actions like adding new monitors and controls for harmful refrigerant leaks or installing solar energy systems. This shows the huge momentum that climate activists have generated in shareholder proposals. In 2021 there were 11 successful climate-related proposals at US public companies, compared with 3 in 2020 and 0 in 2019.3 Despite 970 companies having now set science-based targets, however, thousands of large public companies still fail to disclose their emissions or report on their targets.4

The proposal passed with 70% support.