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Using our voice for a zero carbon future

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We’re calling on everyone – businesses, governments and international alliances – to come together to tackle climate change.

The race to achieve a zero carbon economy and society must be a collective effort, and business alone cannot drive the transition at the speed that is required. We’re calling on all governments to set ambitious net zero targets, as well as short-term emissions reduction targets, supported with enabling policy frameworks such as carbon pricing. This is both a moral and business imperative.

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Global climate leadership

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Take action

This is how you can get involved too. Take action on the issues that you care about and let’s make a positive difference to our planet and our society together.

Progress on our own climate change targets means nothing in an overheated world. We advocate for national climate policies that advance the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to limit global temperature increases to well below 2°C, and ideally no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, by the end of this century.

We believe the world must reach net zero emissions by 2050, and preferably much earlier – to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

This is an enormous task. Nothing is more powerful than demonstrating to governments that accelerated progress in decarbonising the economy is actually possible.

That’s why we’ve set ambitious goals to eliminate emissions from our operations, to achieve net zero emissions across our value chain, and to halve the greenhouse gas emissions from consumer use of our products. We want other companies to follow our lead and set science-based emissions goals, including our suppliers.

We’re also working in partnership with others to scale up action around the world through multiple private sector groups and coalitions.

International climate advocacy

The annual United Nations Intergovernmental Climate Conference is always a critical moment to accelerate global climate commitments. We stepped up our international advocacy efforts before COP26. We were an early signatory to the We Mean Business open letter to G20 leaders calling for higher ambition ahead of COP26. Subsequently we partnered with the UK government as a Principal Partner of COP26 in Glasgow. Our CEO, Alan Jope, served as a member of the COP26 Business Leaders Group to rally UK and international businesses. Read more about our reflections on COP26.

We advocated for countries to strengthen emissions reduction plans to achieve net zero by mid-century and put in place enabling policy measures. When possible, we advocate directly to heads of state, ministers and government organisations on the importance of climate action.

We collaborate with our peers and partners through various international alliances to advocate for international climate action. These include:

Alliance

Our involvement

We Mean Business

We support the advocacy work of We Mean Business, a coalition of influential business groups and we’re a member of its Corporate Advisory Group to engage a record number of businesses around the world in taking action on climate change. Ahead of the COP26 UN climate talks, we were one of over 600 companies that wrote to G20 governments to demand stronger climate commitments, including climate finance for developing countries, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and putting a price on carbon.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

The WBCSD is a CEO-led organisation of nearly 200 companies committed to sustainable business. We’re working extensively across a number of projects and initiatives with other members.

World Economic Forum (WEF)

Alan Jope, our CEO, is a member of WEF’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, which advocates ambitious action on climate change. The group meets annually to collaborate to drive action on climate change and raise ambition for the yearly UN Climate Conference.

Transform to Net Zero

We are a founding member of Transform to Net Zero which aims to accelerate achievement of an inclusive net zero global economy no later than 2050. Together we are enabling business transformation, taking action to reach net zero targets, and creating incentives for net zero strategies.

Exponential Roadmap Initiative

This initiative brings together innovators, transformers and disrupters taking action in line with 1.5°C, with the mission to halve emissions before 2030. As a partner, we co-founded the 1.5°C Supply Chain Leaders initiative to support suppliers to align with a net zero future.

Business Ambition for 1.5°C

We were one of the first companies to commit to and set a science-based target for reducing emissions in line with the 1.5°C ambition of the Paris Agreement. At the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, our CEO, Alan Jope, was honoured with an Ambitious Climate Leader Award by Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, for making this commitment.

UN Global Compact (UNGC)

We’re a member of the UNGC’s Caring for Climate Campaign and we’ve implemented the UNGC’s Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing. We also support its Guide to Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy.

Issue-specific climate alliances

Alliance

Our involvement

RE100

We’re a member of RE100, a campaign to encourage organisations to set goals to be powered by 100% renewable energy and in 2019, we were elected to serve on the campaign’s Advisory Committee. We support the organisation’s campaigns and participate in policy-focused events in the UK and Brussels.

EV100

As part of the EV100 global business campaign, we’re pushing for a faster transition to electric vehicles. Together with EV100 members, we’re increasing demand for EVs, influencing policy, and driving mass roll-out – helping to make electric vehicles more rapidly affordable for everyone.

Powering Past Coal Alliance

Led by the governments of Canada and the UK, the Powering Past Coal Alliance brings together countries and companies committed to an accelerated phase-out of coal as a fuel source in the energy mix. Unilever was the first company to join the coalition.

Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition

Hosted by the World Bank, the CPLC brings together leaders from government, the private sector and civil society to share experience of implementing carbon pricing and promote effective carbon pricing systems and policies.

Natural Climate Solutions Alliance

Unilever was one of the founding members of the Natural Climate Solutions Alliance, convened by WEF and WBCSD, which launched at the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos 2020. The NCSA is a multi-stakeholder alliance committed to developing best practice approaches to scaling nature-based solutions to the climate crisis.

Aligning lobbying activities with 1.5°C

We’ve already committed to ensuring that all direct lobbying relevant to climate policy is consistent with our stated objectives in delivering the 1.5°C ambition of the Paris Agreement. We support policies that accelerate change towards a low-carbon economy, drive growth and reduce risk.

We’ve long championed the importance of aligning indirect climate lobbying through trade associations. Since 2019, we’ve asked the trade associations, of which Unilever is a member, to confirm that their lobbying activities are in line with the Paris Agreement too. In some cases, this triggered discussions to clarify existing positions and we’ll continue our efforts in this area, publishing an annual list of principal trade associations. We also publish a climate policy position that we use to assess our trade association memberships.

The Terra Carta Seal

At COP26, we were among other companies to be awarded the inaugural Terra Carta Seal for driving innovation and demonstrating our commitment to, as well as showing momentum towards, the creation of sustainable markets. The Terra Carta was awarded to leading companies with credible transition roadmaps that are underpinned by globally recognised scientific metrics for achieving net zero emissions by 2050 – or earlier.

Launched by HRH Prince Charles at the One Planet Summit in early 2021, the Terra Carta is a recovery plan for Nature, People and Planet, which provides a roadmap for accelerating progress towards a sustainable future and harness the power of nature as well as the transformative power, innovation and resources of business.

Our position on carbon pricing

Carbon pricing – the concept of applying a cost to each tonne of carbon emitted – is a way to encourage investment in low-carbon solutions and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Over the past five years, we have experimented with different forms of internal carbon pricing schemes, including a programme which 'taxed' divisional capital expenditure budgets in order to create a Low Carbon Fund to accelerate clean tech investment at our sites.

As we move into the final decade of our operational decarbonisation plan, we are replacing this approach with an explicit commitment to ensure that all of Unilever’s capital expenditure is aligned with the achievement of our 1.5 degree aligned targets. In practice, this means that we will not finance assets within our operations which are inconsistent with achieving a 100% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030. As a first step, we’ve developed a bespoke digital tool to capture the GHG, water and waste impact data of all capital expenditure projects.

Externally, we have consistently advocated in favour of carbon pricing policies at levels in line with the delivery of the Paris Agreement. We signed the World Bank’s carbon pricing statement to encourage others to do the same. We support the Coalition’s High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices ($40–80 per tonne by 2020 rising to $50–100 per tonne by 2030, provided a supportive policy environment is in place). We also support the removal of fossil fuel subsidies, as these act as negative carbon prices.

Transparency on climate change

We support the aims of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and believe that businesses should communicate the risks and opportunities of climate change. We’ve adopted the TCFD’s recommendations from the start, to help stakeholders understand the impacts of climate change on our business.

We use scenario analysis to understand the potential financial impact of climate change on our business. Our Annual Report and Accounts includes our latest 1.5°C scenario analysis. The outcomes from our scenario analysis provide us with initial high-level insights into the potential business and financial impacts from climate change which forms an important input to our strategic planning process.

We have participated in CDP since it was founded in 2000. We publish our submissions for the CDP investor questionnaires each year:

Unilever CDP Climate Response 2021 (PDF 1001.98 KB)

Unilever CDP Water Response 2021 (PDF 797.38 KB)

Unilever CDP Forests Response 2021 (PDF 1.2 MB)


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