Unilever puts plans to tackle climate change to shareholder vote

unilever climate change

Unilever, the foods, home and beauty products giant, is to put an ambitious plan to fight climate change to its investors.

The FMCG company, which makes everything from Dove soaps and Domestos to Marmite and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, said it intended to put its climate transition action plan before shareholders and seek a non-binding advisory vote on the company’s ambitious emissions reduction targets and the plans to achieve them.

Unilever climate change plan

The plan will set out the company’s climate strategy to reduce emissions within its operations, through its value chain, as well as describe how the company is managing risks and meeting consumer needs connected with climate change and societal responses to it.

It is the first time a major global company has voluntarily committed to put its climate transition plans before a shareholder vote.

Unilever said it believes that the economy-wide shift to net zero emissions will require a greater and deeper level of engagement between companies and their investors about their climate transition plans.

In setting out its plan, Unilever hopes this increased level of transparency and accountability will strengthen the dialogue with our shareholders and encourage other companies to follow suit.

Unilever’s science-based targets include reaching zero emissions from its own operations by 2030 and achieving a 50% reduction in the average footprint of its products by 2030.

In addition, in June this year, Unilever announced a new net zero target of reaching net zero emissions from sourcing to point of sale, by 2039.

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Huge change to meet targets

Achieving these targets will require a range of measures including decarbonising the raw materials it sources, completing the transition of its operations to 100% renewable energy, advocating for the accelerated decarbonisation of the global energy grid, eliminating deforestation from its supply chain, and innovation and product reformulation through compaction and concentration.

In addition, to achieve its net zero by 2039 target, Unilever will require high quality carbon removal credits to balance any residual emissions from sourcing to point of sale.

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO said, “Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time and we are determined to play a leadership role in accelerating the transition to a zero carbon economy.

“We have a wide ranging and ambitious set of climate commitments – but we know they are only as good as our delivery against them.

“That’s why we will be sharing more detail with our shareholders who are increasingly wanting to understand more about our strategy and plans.

“We welcome this increased transparency and in the plan we present, we will be clear both about the areas in our direct control where we have a high degree of certainty of our route to net zero, as well as more challenging areas across our value chain where systemic solutions will be required to achieve our targets.”

Unilever said it will share its climate transition action plan in the first quarter of 2021, ahead of its AGM on 5 May.

The plan will be updated on a rolling basis and Unilever will seek an advisory vote every three years on any material changes made or proposed to the plan.

The first year the company will report on its annual progress against the plan will be 2022.