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Our Climate Transition Action Plan

Our Climate Transition Action Plan (CTAP), updated in 2024, sets out our actions to lower our emissions by 2030.

Since we originally published our CTAP in 2021, we have reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our operations and lowered the emissions intensity of our products across our value chain.

Ultimately, our ambition is to reach net zero across our value chain by 2039. To progress towards this, it is vital we reduce emissions over the next few years and put the building blocks in place to ensure long-term delivery.

Our operations (Scope 1 and 2)

  • Reduce in absolute terms our operational emissions (Scope 1 & 2) by 100% by 2030, against a 2015 baseline (validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) as 1.5°C-aligned).
  • Reduce in absolute terms our operational emissions (Scope 1 & 2) by 70% by 2025, against a 2015 baseline (achieved in 2023).

Our value chain (Scope 3)

  • Reduce absolute energy and industrial Scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services (associated with ingredients, packaging), upstream transport and distribution, energy and fuel-related activities, direct emissions from use of sold products (associated with HFC propellants), end-of-life treatment of sold products, and downstream leased assets (associated with ice cream retail cabinets) by 42% by 2030, from a 2021 base year (submitted to the SBTi for validation as 1.5°C-aligned in November 2023).[a]
  • Reduce absolute Scope 3 forest, land and agriculture (FLAG) GHG emissions from purchased goods and services (associated with ingredients) by 30.3% by 2030, from a 2021 base year (submitted to the SBTi for validation as 1.5°C-aligned in November 2023).[a]

Our two near-term Scope 3 GHG reduction targets are separate, but together they represent a 39% absolute reduction in total targeted Scope 3 emissions.[b]

For information about our progress against our targets, please visit our Sustainability performance data and our Annual Report and Accounts.

Our action areas

To drive our GHG emissions reduction to 2030, we are focusing our efforts where we believe we can have the greatest impact, and where we have access to better data to track our performance.

Supplier Climate Programme

This programme is designed to accelerate the transition of key suppliers to a position of climate leadership.

Our Supplier Climate Programme is designed to accelerate the transition of key suppliers to a position of climate leadership. We define this as suppliers having set their own science-based GHG reduction targets, publicly reporting progress against their targets, and having the capacity and capability to provide us with a Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) for the materials we buy.

Key actions:

  • Scale up the Unilever Supplier Climate Programme.
  • Create innovation partnerships with select suppliers for GHG reduction.
  • Actively engage with industry-wide initiatives to drive standardisation and scale up approaches to climate action and transparency.

Dependencies:

  • Industry alignment around common requirements and methodologies for PCF data.

Reformulating products

We are changing the way our products are made without compromising on performance or consumer experience.

Reformulating our products is one of our biggest opportunities to reduce emissions. Importantly, we are taking action without compromising on product performance or consumer experience.

Key actions:

  • Reformulate our Home Care products to use innovative lower-GHG ingredients.
  • Use plant-based and lower-GHG food ingredients in Nutrition.
  • Increase plant-based ice cream options and alternatives.
  • Reduce palm oil usage in soap bars.

Dependencies:

  • Increased consumer acceptance of plant-based products and technological developments.
  • Changes to national Standards of Identity (SOI). We are required to align our product content and production methods with SOI in different markets – for example, the minimum quantity of vegetable oil in our mayonnaise or levels of dairy in our ice creams.

Forest-risk commodities

By the end of 2023 we had put in place the infrastructure, monitoring and verification systems to manage a deforestation-free supply chain.

The GHG emissions from the production of our key forest-risk commodities (palm oil, paper and board, soy, cocoa, and tea) arise from land use change (e.g. deforestation), agricultural practices and downstream processing.

Key actions:

  • Invest in our value chain to meet current and future demand for deforestation-free commodities.
  • Enrol suppliers and smallholder farmers in our programmes to help them improve practises and ensure they do not contribute to land use change.
  • Drive improvements in the processing of forest-risk commodities.

Dependencies:

  • Availability of deforestation-free and lower-emission commodities.
  • Adoption of consistent standards for forest-risk commodities and level playing fields globally.

Find out more about our work to manage a deforestation-free supply chain.

Regenerative agriculture

We are working with partners to scale up more sustainable farming practices in our value chain.

Regenerative agricultural practices focus on delivering positive outcomes in terms of nourishing the soil, increasing farm biodiversity, improving water quality and climate resilience, capturing carbon, and restoring and regenerating the land. Our Nutrition and Ice Cream Business Groups are working with our suppliers to introduce regenerative agriculture practices to some of our key ingredients, including rice, soybeans, wheat, rapeseed, corn, tea, and dairy products.

Key actions:

  • Scale up adoption of regenerative agriculture.
  • Expand our Lower Carbon Dairy Programme.
  • Work together across shared supply chains.

Dependencies:

  • Farmer capacity and capability to implement regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Shared understanding of regenerative agriculture principles and practices.
  • Supportive regulatory environment to mitigate risks for farmers.

Chemical ingredients

We are working to reduce emissions from two key chemical ingredients.

Two key chemical ingredients contribute a significant proportion of our Scope 3 GHG emissions: linear alkylbenzene sulphonate (LAS) and soda ash. LAS is an organic chemical used as a surfactant (or cleaning agent) in Home Care products such as laundry detergents and is historically derived from petrochemical feedstocks. Soda ash is an inorganic chemical used as a key ingredient in laundry powders and when produced synthetically, is energy-intensive and often produced in markets that burn coal.

Key actions:

  • Reduce the GHG intensity of LAS production. To reduce emissions from production, we encourage our suppliers to use renewable energy.
  • Reduce the GHG intensity of soda ash production.

Dependencies:

  • Industry cooperation and advocacy.
  • Supplier climate action. We depend on ongoing innovation partnerships with suppliers to develop and procure low-carbon soda ash.
  • A level playing field for the production of renewable LAS.

Our operations

We are continuing to transition to renewable thermal energy.

Our operational emissions are within our direct control. We have achieved a 74% emissions reduction vs 2015 (achieving our short-term Scope 1 & 2 GHG reduction target two years early), primarily through increasing our use of renewable electricity and energy efficiency programmes, and increasing our use of renewable electricity.

Key actions:

Over the next three years, we plan to invest €150m in our manufacturing decarbonisation programme, focused on three areas:

  • Decarbonisation of our thermal and electrical energy.
  • Increasing our use of renewable power.
  • Reducing emissions from refrigeration.

Dependencies:

  • Availability of cost-effective thermal energy solutions.
  • Local availability of sustainably sourced biofuels.
  • Continued validity of market-based mechanisms for renewable energy.

Packaging

We are using post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) which helps us to reduce our dependence on virgin fossil-fuel-derived plastics.

Emissions from packaging are a significant contribution to our total Scope 3 GHG emissions and predominantly arise during two lifecycle stages: at feedstock creation, for example, where plastics traditionally use fossil fuels, and at end-of-life, particularly if disposed of through incineration or landfill. Our progress within this action area is demonstrated through our continued use of post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) which helps us to reduce our dependence on virgin fossil-fuel-derived plastics.

Key actions:

  • Reduce our overall packaging material use.
  • Transition towards increased use of recycled and renewable feedstocks.
  • Design our packaging for recycling.
  • Advocate for better collection, recycling, and reuse infrastructure.

Dependencies:

  • Implementation of regulated Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes. We will continue advocating for well-designed EPR schemes, where companies such as Unilever pay for and manage the collection and processing of packaging.
  • Agreement of a global plastics treaty.
  • Public policy that creates the right enabling environment for new packaging models to succeed.

Logistics

We are improving our transport network efficiency.

We use logistics and distribution networks across the world to transport our raw materials and products, resulting in GHG emissions from fossil fuel use.

Key actions:

  • Improve transport network efficiency.
  • Scale up electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

Dependencies:

  • Accelerated decarbonisation of the transport sector.
  • Improved availability of alternative fuels, electric vehicles (especially heavy-duty vehicles), and recharging infrastructure.


Ice cream cabinets

We are working to reduce GHG emissions from our fleet of ice cream cabinets through cabinet efficiency and ‘warming up’ the cold chain.

We have a global cabinet fleet of close to 3 million point-of-sale ice cream freezers, all of which use electricity. This results in GHG emissions where this electricity comes from non-renewable sources.

Key actions:

  • Increase cabinet energy efficiency.
  • ‘Warm up’ the cold chain. This involves raising the temperature settings of the cabinets from the standard setting of -18°C to a higher setting of -12°C, requiring less energy.
  • Transition to renewable energy.

Dependencies:

  • Ongoing transition to renewable electricity.
  • Market access to power purchase agreements and ongoing acceptability of energy attribute certificates.
  • Change in freezer temperature regulations.

Aerosol propellants in the US and Canada

We are developing alternative propellants for the US market.

Propellants are ingredients used within products such as hair sprays, antiperspirant sprays, deodorants, and body sprays. Outside of North America, Unilever uses natural hydrocarbon gases for these spray formats which have close to zero GHG emissions. However, in part due to restrictions in the US and Canada regarding Volatile Organic Compound regulations, our spray formulas in these markets use hydrofluorocarbon propellants. HFC propellants typically have a Global Warming Potential of around 164, meaning they are 164 times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming.

Key actions:

  • Develop alternative propellants for the US market.

Dependencies:

  • Consumer acceptance of aerosol propellant innovations in the US and Canada markets.
  • Removal of potential regulatory roadblocks in Canada.

In addition to the actions outlined above, we recognise that more innovations will be needed if we are to meet our near-term targets and deliver our Net Zero by 2039 ambition. We believe that by being open and transparent about our challenges and dependencies in our CTAP, we can help accelerate the changes needed to get our business and the world on track for net zero.

Photograph of Rebecca Marmot speaking at Climate Week.

"Climate action is a priority for Unilever, to support business growth and the communities we serve. We’re focusing our efforts where we can have most impact and driving innovation – but we cannot do it alone. We’re partnering with others to scale solutions and using our voice to spur collective action from governments, regulators and industry, up and down our value chain. We want to focus our business and the world to get on track for net zero."

Rebecca Marmot, Chief Sustainability Officer

Our wider influence on society

To deliver the actions outlined in our updated CTAP, and to help unlock further emissions reduction to meet our near-term GHG reduction targets and progress towards net zero, we recognise the need for more targeted engagement to help drive systemic change.

Our CTAP includes cross-cutting advocacy asks which underpin and support our work on climate. It also sets out how we seek to address specific barriers to each action area, by working with governments, regulators, and industry to shift the systems we are part of. Our cross-cutting advocacy asks include:

graphic describing Unilever’s five advocacy aims

More details of how we approach and govern climate policy engagement, including a review of our industry associations, can be found in our Climate Policy Engagement Review (PDF 1.39 MB).

Our climate governance

The Board has overall accountability for the management of all risks and opportunities, including those arising from climate change and our CTAP. Our CEO and Executive Board member is ultimately responsible for overseeing our climate agenda and implementation of our CTAP. Further information about climate governance is included in our CTAP.

[a] (1,2)

Our near-term Scope 3 targets have been submitted to SBTi for validation.

[b]

We also have a target to ‘Halve the full value chain emissions (Scope 1 to 3) of our products on a per consumer use basis by 2030 against a 2010 baseline (medium-term intensity target)’. This target is consistent with a 2°C temperature increase because it was set in 2010 and validated by the SBTi before the 1.5°C validation was introduced. We intend to retire this target in 2024 once our new, more ambitious 1.5°C-aligned Scope 3 targets have been validated by the SBTi.

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