Unilever would share its climate transition action plan with shareholders in Q1 next year and seek follow-up votes every three years thereafter for any material changes made or proposed to the plan.
The announcement comes just days after the United Nations Environment Programme released its annual Emissions Gap Report urging industry, governments and all stakeholders to invest in a green pandemic recovery to curb global temperatures rising to a predicted 3°C.
€1bn towards climate change strategy
Unilever already outlined its long-term sustainability strategy in June this year, stating it would pool €1 billion into a dedicated fund to accelerate efforts in combatting climate change.
Part of its sustainability push included achieving net zero emissions from sourcing to point of sale by 2039 and reducing overall product footprint by 50% and hitting zero emissions on its own operations by 2030. Such targets, it said, would require a “range of measures”, including decarbonising raw materials it sourced; shifting to 100% renewable energy; eliminating deforestation from its supply chain; and compacting and concentrating products.
Unilever said obtaining shareholder approval and securing long-term investor engagement on these issues was an important next step.
A ‘greater and deeper’ engagement with investors
“Unilever 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 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.”
Unilever said it was the first time a major global company had voluntarily committed to put its climate transition plans before a shareholder vote.
Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever, 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,” Jope said.
Unilever’s shareholders recently voted in favour of unifying the company’s Anglo-Dutch legal structure – a move that aimed to future-proof business and see the company’s entire portfolio of consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands operate under one single parent company Unilever PLC.