Unilever to seek shareholder approval for climate transition action plan
London - The Unilever Board today announced the intention 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.
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 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’s science-based targets include:
- Zero emissions from its own operations by 20301
- A 50% reduction in the average footprint of its products by 20302
In addition, in June this year, Unilever announced a new net zero target:
- Net zero emissions from sourcing to point of sale, by 2039.
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 will share its climate transition action plan in Q1 2021, ahead of its AGM on May 5. 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.
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Where relevant, these actions are subject to the appropriate consultations and approvals.
This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, including ‘forward-looking statements’ within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ‘will’, ‘aim’, ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘looks’, ‘believes’, ‘vision’, or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Unilever Group (the ‘Group’). They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance.
Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Among other risks and uncertainties, the material or principal factors which could cause actual results to differ materially are: Unilever’s global brands not meeting consumer preferences; Unilever’s ability to innovate and remain competitive; Unilever’s investment choices in its portfolio management; the effect of climate change on Unilever’s business; Unilever’s ability to find sustainable solutions to its plastic packaging; significant changes or deterioration in customer relationships; the recruitment and retention of talented employees; disruptions in our supply chain and distribution; increases or volatility in the cost of raw materials and commodities; the production of safe and high quality products; secure and reliable IT infrastructure; execution of acquisitions, divestitures and business transformation projects; economic, social and political risks and natural disasters; financial risks; failure to meet high and ethical standards; and managing regulatory, tax and legal matters. A number of these risks have increased as a result of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
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Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group’s filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2020.