Marks & Spencer (M&S) has become the first major company to sign up to UNICEF’s carbon offset project, supporting a pilot project in Bangladesh that helps to reduce indoor air pollution and its impact on children's health.

From February, M&S will provide funds for 40,000 fuel efficient, low pollution cook stoves to be manufactured, sold and maintained by local entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.

The move by M&S is part of a commitment under its Plan A eco and ethical programme to be a carbon neutral company.

“This project will have a huge impact in a country that is extremely important to M&S," said M&S chief executive Marc Bolland. "Being carbon neutral is a key part of Plan A and it's important that, wherever we can, we invest in high quality offsets that support communities within which we operate."

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  • 40,000 Bangladeshi families to benefit
  • 150 new jobs to be created
  • Fuel efficient cook stoves to be sold in 2,000 villages

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has become the first major company to sign up to UNICEF’s new carbon offset project. This initiative will improve the health and lives of vulnerable children while cutting carbon emissions that cause climate change.

M&S will kick start the project in early 2014 by providing funds for 40,000 fuel efficient, low pollution cook stoves to be manufactured, sold and maintained by local entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.  The project will be delivered to the highest environmental and development standards and aims to qualify for ‘The Gold Standard’ carbon credit certification. The move by M&S is part of its Plan A (M&S’s eco and ethical programme) commitment to be a carbon neutral company.

According to the World Health Organization some 49,000 people , 70 per cent of whom are children under five years old, die each year in Bangladesh due to the smoke generated from traditional indoor cook stoves. Indoor air pollution from solid fuel is the third biggest risk factor for deaths in South Asia  and the number of deaths from indoor air pollution is greater than those from malaria or tuberculosis. Women and children, who tend to be primarily responsible for cooking, are the most affected. 
The new stoves are 50 per cent more fuel efficient than traditional stoves, producing one tonne less carbon emissions each year. This is the equivalent of driving a petrol car 3,000 miles. The new stoves will be used by low income families from over 2,000 villages across Bangladesh. Over 150 new jobs will be created as local people will be trained to manufacture, market and install the stoves.

This innovative financing for development partnership brings together business and the international development sector to tackle both climate and health issues that directly affect the world’s most vulnerable children.

Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF said: “We are delighted that Marks & Spencer is supporting UNICEF’s carbon offset pilot project in Bangladesh, which helps to reduce indoor air pollution and its serious consequences on the health of children. This demonstrates how innovative private sector partnerships can positively impact the wellbeing of children and the world that they inherit.”

Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer said: “This project will have a huge impact in a country that is extremely important to M&S. Being carbon neutral is a key part of Plan A and it’s important that, wherever we can, we invest in high quality offsets that support communities within which we operate. We’ll do this while at the same time working with partners like UNICEF, who can help us deliver our vision of becoming a sustainable, international multi-channel retailer.”

Lord Paddy Ashdown, President of UNICEF UK said: ‘It is excellent news that M&S is working with UNICEF on this project which will not only help to reduce carbon emissions, but will tackle a health problem which is harming thousands of children across Bangladesh. This is a groundbreaking example of our corporate partners working hand in hand with us to deliver real benefits to children’s lives.’

Jonathan Porritt, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future said: “M&S led the world in becoming the first major retailer to go carbon neutral and has now reinforced that leadership by supporting UNICEF’s new carbon offset project in Bangladesh. This ticks literally all the boxes in terms of improved health, local economic benefits and reduced emissions of CO2. I sincerely hope that others will follow swiftly in their path.”

The fuel efficient cook stoves help to reduce deforestation and limit local flooding. Currently 90 per cent of households in Bangladesh depend on biomass such as wood, forest cuttings and cow dung for fuel, but less than two per cent of those households use fuel efficient stoves. Bangladesh is one of the countries most at risk of the impact of climate change, especially in relation to rising sea levels that could make millions of people homeless.

The new stoves also enable households to save money on fuel, freeing up income for other essentials such as food and healthcare.  In some cases where women and children have to spend time collecting firewood this may free up time for children, especially girls, to attend school.

Offsetting through UNICEF ensures that, by reducing carbon emissions, two major threats to children’s health are tackled simultaneously – climate change as well as respiratory infections and disease attributed to indoor air pollution

- Ends - 

Notes to editor

About the UNICEF carbon offsetting scheme

  • The project is expected to start in February 2014. The initial phase will be implemented by the UNICEF Bangladesh country office in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH who will train local entrepreneurs to manufacture, market and install more efficient stoves. This project is eligible for financing through the carbon offset market. The carbon offset funding from M&S will cover the first two years of the ten year cook stove programme in Bangladesh.
  • The Gold Standard is one of the highest quality certifications, with an emphasis on environmental and development outcomes alongside the carbon reduction outcomes. It requires detailed and robust monitoring and substantial local stakeholder engagement processes.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

About Marks & Spencer 
Marks & Spencer is a leading international, multi-channel retailer selling high quality, great value clothing and home products and outstanding quality food. 30 million customers visit M&S stores and M& every week and the company employs 81,000 people across the globe. M&S was founded 129 years ago and has 782 UK stores and 431 international stores and nine dedicated international websites in over 50 territories in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. For more information please

About Plan A 
Plan A is Marks & Spencer’s eco and ethical programme that aims to make M&S the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015. Launched in 2007 and extended in March 2010, it takes a holistic approach to sustainability focusing on involving customers, involving all areas of the business and tackling issues such as climate change, waste, raw materials, health and being a fair partner.

About the partnership 
M&S and UNICEF this year announced an international partnership to raise £1.75 million over the next three years.  Employees across M&S’ 431 stores in over 50 countries have been raising money for UNICEF’s work providing life changing education for children. This builds on an already successful existing collaboration with the UK National Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), where M&S makes a donation of 50p for every £1 saved from hanger recycling, helping UNICEF transform the lives of children and families in Bangladesh. In 2012, M&S recycled 161m UK hangers and aims to raise at least £1.9million for UNICEF by 2014.

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