Release: Corporate Ethics Group Blasts Wal-Mart for Forcing Its 'Politics' on Suppliers Through New Environmental Mandates

Falls Church, Virginia —  The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today criticized Wal-Mart for pressuring its suppliers to combat the unproven global warming threat by asking them to disclose their carbon dioxide emissions.

Wal-Mart recently announced that it is partnering with the London-based Carbon Disclosure Project, a coalition of 315 institutional investors that purportedly controls $41 trillion in assets, to develop strategies for its suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Wal-Mart claims it is not trying to force its 60,000 suppliers to cut emissions as a condition for receiving lucrative contracts. However, previous statements by Wal-Mart officials have made it clear that companies that toe its environmental agenda will get preferential treatment.

When Wal-Mart announced in 2005 its so-called sustainability agenda in which it vowed to spend $500 million per year to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, company CEO Lee Scott said, "Our most direct impact will be on our suppliers." Likewise, Tim Yatsko, Wal-Mart senior vice president of transportation, stated, "We have made it clear that all things being equal, we’ll give business to operators who show they’re fully engaged" in promoting fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One of the goals of Wal-Mart’s sustainability agenda is to establish a program "that would show preference to suppliers who set their own goals and aggressively reduce their own emissions."

"Wal-Mart’s supposedly voluntary campaign to ask suppliers to disclose their carbon emissions is laying the foundation for a coercive mandate," says John Carlisle, NLPC policy director and the author of the study, Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business.

"This isn’t about the environment. It’s about politics, pure and simple. Wal-Mart is so desperate to deflect liberal criticism of its business practices that it is willing to strong-arm its suppliers to push a highly-politicized ‘green’ agenda," says Carlisle.

"Wal-Mart suppliers have told us that the company’s environmental mandates have resulted in inferior products being provided at a higher cost. Wal-Mart is making a mistake. Its business model is based on low prices," Carlisle added.

Not surprisingly, environmental activists welcome Wal-Mart’s decision to use its clout to force suppliers to cut emissions. Carbon Disclosure Project Coordinator Paul Dickinson called Wal-Mart’s carbon disclosure policy a "very significant milestone in corporate action to mitigate climate change." Dickinson said that a carbon reporting system for suppliers will ultimately lead to cuts in emissions because "what gets measured gets managed."

Carlisle concluded, "Small businesses must find it especially galling that Wal-Mart is forcing higher costs on them in the name of environmentalism while Lee Scott still gets to fly around the world in his corporate jet."