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As much bad publicity as Walmart gets for things like poverty wages and putting local stores out of business, one area it's managed to get some good publicity is its supposed commitment to sustainability. The retailer issues a Global Responsibility Report, describing itself in 2013 as "the largest onsite green power generator in the United States." But a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance says Walmart is anything but sustainable:
Today Walmart ranks as one of the biggest and fastest growing climate polluters in the country. If it were included in the Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index, a list that is limited to heavy industrial firms, such as oil companies and power plants, Walmart would take the 33rd spot, just a hair behind Chevron, America’s second largest
oil company.
Specifically, Walmart's reported greenhouse gas emissions have risen 14 percent since 2005 even though the corporation doesn't include emissions from its international shipping in its accounting. The environmental impact of always building new, car-centered stores also doesn't factor into Walmart's sustainability self-reporting. But even compared with other big box stores, Walmart's emissions are high.

Walmart's claims about using renewable energy are also immensely exaggerated. Walmart is massive enough that using even a small share of renewable energy is enough to put it on the Environmental Protection Agency's list of top retail users of green power—and using a small share is exactly what Walmart has done:

Chart showing green power as percent of total electricity use for retail chains: Whole Foods 107%, Kohl's 105%, Staples 102%, Nuu-Muu 100%, Starbucks 70%, McDonald's 30%, Best Buy 12%, Ahold (Stop & Shop, Giant) 8%, Walmart 4%.
"Walmart is failing on climate exactly like it is failing on worker’s rights," the Sierra Club's Michael Marx said in a statement accompanying the report. "The company’s carbon pollution is up 14 percent while it pours millions of dollars into a misleading PR campaign around sustainability and anti-environmental public officials who obstruct solutions to climate disruption. If Walmart wants us to live better it can start by treating its workers with the dignity and respect they deserve and taking real steps to cut carbon pollution."

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:48 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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