Ten forests will help Denmark’s largest retail group to become climate positive

Ten forests will help Denmark’s largest retail group to become climate positive

Here, on what used to be a farm in Jutland, the first of Coop's afforestation projects will be implemented.

The supermarket chain Coop with 1,100 Danish stores is working intently to become climate positive. Several afforestation projects will contribute to realise the ambition. NIRAS consults Coop on the international standards that apply to climate compensation.

August 19, 2020

Denmark's leading grocery group Coop has launched a large-scale climate and nature project, which will provide the Danish population with 10 new folk forests and help make Coop a climate positive company by 2030. The first forest project will be on a former agricultural area in Jutland. In overall terms, the ambition with the afforestation project is to achieve approx. 400 acres of new forest by 2030.

Coop’s folk forests will be planted with a focus on biodiversity, and the areas will evolve into attractive recreational spaces for the general public to use for walks and different kinds of activities. Coop will achieve their climate compensation when the trees in the forest absorb from the air. This way COOP will guarantee a reduction with their afforestation projects.

“In 2020 we will have the foundation for the calculations of the absorbed  in place, and in the spring of 2021 we will establish the forest in Idomlund. The following years we will further establish 9 different forests in different locations in Denmark. Forests are special because in addition to them being beneficial to the climate, they also greatly contribute to foster communities, and bring much joy to our 1,8 million members and the rest of Denmark,” says Peter Svendsen, Head of Climate Action in Coop and responsible for the activities regarding Coop’s folk forests.

More about Coop

  • Coop is Denmark’s leading convenience company. They own and run the supermarket chains Kvickly, SuperBrugsen, Dagli’Brugsen, Irma, Fakta and
  • The Coop-family consists of about 1,100 stores located all across in Denmark, which are owned partly by Coop Denmark and partly by a number of independent cooperative stores.
  • Coop Denmark employs around 40,000 people. The company drives an annual revenue of approx. 43 billion DKK and has 1,8 million members.

Coop crosses the finish line with climate compensation

Obviously, when a retail group with 1,100 stores and 40,000 employees wants to become not only CO2-neutral but also climate positive, it is not enough in itself to raise forests. Coop is working persistently to reduce its direct CO2 emissions by 75% in 2025. The methods are energy efficiency improvements, heating with heat pumps, decommissioning of old refrigeration systems, purchasing electric company cars, and buying green electricity.

CO2-offsetting is complicated

Here are some of the more complicated terms, which companies who are aiming for climate compensation need to be aware of:

  • Additionality – For a project regarding CO2-offsetting to be officially recognized, you need to be able to document that the project was implemented with that sole purpose. You for example don’t count already existing trees in the afforestation project when calculating the additional absorbed CO2
  • Double counting – The ways in which companies’ and countries’ CO2 accounts are calculated and separated have led to intense debates. Especially regarding CO2-credits, it is crucial to avoid double counting CO2 reductions at the same level.

However, to reach the goal of becoming climate positive in operations by 2030, calculations show that Coop needs to pick up 9% CO2 reductions outside the company's boundaries. This is where the ten afforestation projects come in. Coop's public forests will provide a positive climate effect, which compensates for the last 9% - so-called climate compensation.

“It is nice to see that there are still more and more Danish companies, who prioritise efforts that benefit the global climate and contribute to the Paris Agreement. Companies take on responsibility and reduce as much as they can within their own areas,” says Christian Eriksen, Expertise Director in NIRAS.

Large-scale CO2 offsetting is still new in Denmark

NIRAS consults Coop on how to ensure that the afforestation projects contribute to their efforts towards climate positivity through CO2-offsetting. Calculating the amount of absorbed CO2 and monitoring the climate projects is a complicated affair. Also getting the climate credits officially recognised - e.g. by CDP (Carbon Disclosure Projects) – is an extensive journey with a lot of uncertainty along the way.

 “Two to three years after the first trees have been planted, we can start measuring how much CO2 has been absorbed so far. The result for Coop is carbon credits, which they can use to achieve CO2 neutrality or resell to other companies. It also benefits Denmark's overall climate accounts, so my hope is that more companies start using the option of climate compensation in addition to their own CO2 reductions,” says Christian Eriksen.

Coop is raising the first folk forest in an area near Holstebro, Denmark, which has been used for ecological farming for the last couple of years. Here Coop has purchased 113 hectares of land in cooperation with a partner (Hedeselskabet), who has many years of experience with afforestation, operation, and development of forests.

Get in touch

Louise Sprotte-Hansen

Louise Sprotte-Hansen

Managing Consultant

Allerød, Denmark

+45 5336 4102