Unilever, which owns Marmite and a range of food and home brands, is putting its green agenda to a shareholder vote

Vote green: Unilever climate commitment plan to go before shareholders

Consumer products conglomerate Unilever said today that it intends to put its climate transition action plan before shareholders and seek a “non-binding advisory vote” on its emissions reduction targets and how to achieve them.

Unilever claimed to be the first major global company to voluntarily commit to putting a green agenda of this nature before a shareholder vote.

The plan, which will be put before shareholders in May 2021, will set out the organisation’s climate strategy to reduce emissions across its operations and network. It will also detail how the company is managing risks and meeting consumer needs connected with climate change and societal responses to it.

Unilever said the economy-wide shift to net zero emission targets will require “a greater and deeper level of engagement” between companies and those who invest in them surrounding climate transition plans.

“In setting out our plan, we hope this increased level of transparency and accountability will strengthen the dialogue with our shareholders and encourage other companies to follow suit,” it stated.

Unilever’s targets include zero emissions from its own operations by 2030, and a 50% reduction in the average footprint of its products by the same year. It also announced this year that it is targeting net zero emissions from sourcing to point of sale, by 2039.

The consumer goods company, which owns personal care and home brands such as Dove and Persil, and food lines such as Hellmann’s and Marmite, said meeting its green goals will require decarbonising the raw materials it sources, moving to 100% renewable energy, and eliminating deforestation from its supply chain, among other moves.

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

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, commented: “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.”

He added: “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 will share its climate transition action plan ahead of its annual general meeting on 5 May 2021. The plan will be updated on a rolling basis and Unilever said it 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.

Read what other big brands are doing to be greener on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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