Co-op CEO Steve Murrells will call on the retail sector to work together to tackle the climate emergency in a wide-ranging speech today setting out his thinking on how Britain can best navigate some of the major social, economic and environmental issues of the day.

His speech, to be given at today’s Westminster Business Forum in London, will focus on three areas: the environment, strengthening communities and the post-Brexit trade negotiations.

Murrells will call upon all the major retailers in the industry to work together to create a unified response to issues such as packaging, plastic and electric lorries.

He will also set out worries that the most vulnerable members of society could be the ones to disproportionately pick up the bill if a change to mass-farming methods leads to higher prices and new diets. The Co-op boss will stress that as we move to a zero-carbon world, “there can’t be a repeat of the 1980s”, when whole communities were cast aside as the UK changed from a focus on coal production to North Sea oil and gas.

Murrells will also touch on healing rifts that exist across the UK post-Brexit. He will highlight how the Co-op turned itself around by focusing on its founding principles and suggest the UK should do the same.

Finally, Murrells is set to urge those involved in forthcoming trade negotiations to deliver value and values-based outcomes, placing people ahead of pounds.

He will call for trade deals to strengthen, not dilute, welfare standards, enabling the Co-op to work easily with its nearest trading partners.

Murrells said in a statement ahead of the speech: “As a nation we face many challenges, but these challenges can be overcome if we truly co-operate and pool our natural resources together.

“The climate emergency is upon us but there’s no need to be apocalyptic. We should instead be optimistic, providing we take bold and collective action. This issue is too big for grandstanding: co-operation rather than competition must be the way forwards.

“For the retail sector, that means pooling our knowledge and working together to deliver a whole which is greater than the sum of the parts. No one retailer should carry the burden to make this happen, and the government needs to create a level playing field for business, through targets and legislation to back this up.”