The eyes of the world will be on Paris from 30 November, as world leaders gather for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21). Their aim is to achieve a legally binding agreement on how to address the issue together for the first time.
Unilever is joining legions of individuals and organisations in calling for ambitious action. Now we’re announcing new targets that we hope will encourage others to do the same, and give confidence to leaders attending Paris that business supports and is planning for an accelerated decarbonisation of the economy.
Good for business, good for the world
Climate change and the devastation it causes matter to our business and our consumers. The business case for action is clear. Achieving this goal by 2030 will reap many benefits, including a lower operational cost, greater resilience in terms of our energy supply and a closer relationship with consumers.
Earlier this year, we were part of the B Team’s call for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In line with this call, our membership of the RE100 initiative and our commitment to adopting science-based targets, we want to go further and faster in the areas over which we have direct control.
Unilever will be ‘carbon positive’ by 2030. It means 100% of our energy across our operations will come from renewable sources, and with partners we will directly support the generation of more renewable energy than we need for our own operations, making the surplus available to the markets and communities in which we operate.
Minimising our environmental impact while continuing to grow the business was written into our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan when it was launched five years ago. This is the first time we have put a deadline on our ambition of sourcing 100% renewable energy for our operations, and it goes further than we have previously stated.
Stepping up with stretching targets
We recognise that our success depends in part on the broader changes taking place in energy markets worldwide.
This new target is just one part of our strategy, and we will continue to drive transformational change to eliminate deforestation from global supply chains, support mainstream sustainable agriculture, advocate for public policy to tackle climate change and help consumers to use less water and less energy and to recycle more.
We have developed these stretching targets with the support of the independent global non-profit organisation, Forum for the Future and will continue to work collaboratively with partners, suppliers and others to achieve our goal.
Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, said: “The Paris climate talks represent a window of opportunity – but they are the start rather than the end of the journey. We all have a responsibility to act now by turning aspirations into practical solutions. That’s why today we are stepping up our own efforts by announcing that Unilever will be ‘carbon positive’ by 2030, eliminating fossil fuels from our business and directly supporting the generation of more renewable energy than we consume. Let’s make future generations proud of what we’ve achieved.”
“A stable climate in which to flourish”
Sally Uren, CEO at Forum for the Future, which helped Unilever develop these stretching targets, said: “The Paris climate talks come at a unique moment in which businesses are facing unprecedented risks from dangerous climate change, as well as immense potential benefits in avoiding it.
“Leading corporations are recognising the fact that individual action alone won't be enough to avert the massive threats that unmitigated climate change poses for business and society. We need to see more pioneering businesses such as Unilever advocate for a deal in Paris that will give them and the rest of society a stable climate in which to flourish.”
Unilever’s ‘carbon positive’ goal in full
We will become ‘carbon positive’ in our operations by 2030. To do this, we will:
- Source 100% of our total energy across our operations from renewable sources by 2030
- Source all our electricity purchased from the grid from renewable sources by 2020
- Eliminate coal from our energy mix by 2020
- And in order to achieve our target of ‘carbon positive’ by 2030, we intend to directly support the generation of more renewable energy than we consume and make the surplus available to the markets and communities in which we operate.