The ALDI SOUTH Group aims to minimise the negative impacts of its business operations on both climate and environment. We want to contribute to climate protection by lowering our greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, our international climate strategy focuses on the systematic reduction of our energy consumption, employing more environmentally friendly refrigerants, the use of renewable energy, and modern logistics concepts.
We first adopted this international climate strategy in 2014. The strategy defines our goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions per square metre of sales area by the year 2020 in every country of operation by 30 % compared to the year 2012. For the purpose of this calculation, Australia, the USA, and Germany are all considered separately, whereas Great Britain and Ireland on the one hand, and the HOFER S/E countries, i.e. Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Hungary, on the other hand, are consolidated into two groups.
We monitor our progress by calculating the Company Carbon Footprint (CCF) for all of our business processes and locations every two years in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol), which defines the main criteria of relevance, completeness, consistency, transparency, and accuracy. Moreover, the GHG balances for 2012, 2014, and 2016 have been audited with limited assurance in accordance with the International Standard on Assurance Engagement (ISAE) 3410 by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Germany.
While ALDI SOUTH has already achieved or even exceeded its climate reduction goal across our European countries of operation, ALDI Australia is well on track. The only increase from the baseline, which was primarily caused by exceptionally high refrigerant losses in stores, was recorded in the US in 2016. Multiple initiatives are already under way to improve this by 2020. Despite the continuous expansion of the ALDI SOUTH Group, absolute GHG emissions are 3 % below the levels recorded for 2012.
Based on our analyses, we have determined that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions are generated within our stores, followed by logistics and distribution centre operations. With respect to stores and distribution centres, this is primarily due to the electricity required to refrigerate products and ventilate the buildings, as well as for air conditioning and lighting. Emissions are also caused by refrigerant leakages and energy consumption for heating. With respect to logistics, GHG emissions are primarily caused by fuel consumption.