Large online retailers produce fewer emissions, report says

Large online retailers in the US produce 17 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional stores, according to a report from Generation Investment Management LLP, the sustainable fund manager set up by former Vice President Al Gore and David Blood, the ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Generation said its research found that e-commerce was more carbon-efficient than brick-and-mortar retailing, but usually only with businesses operating on a global scale, such as Walmart Inc. and Inc.

Smaller online companies can be even more emissions-intensive than the traditional shops, particularly if their warehousing isn’t energy efficient. The findings, generated using a new modeling tool created by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, Davis, show the complexity of accurately determining the levels of emissions from the retail industry’s use of transport, buildings, data and packaging.