Unilever targets net zero emissions from its products by 2039

Unilever Australia

Wednesday, 17 June, 2020

Unilever targets net zero emissions from its products by 2039

Unilever has set out a range of measures and commitments designed to improve the health of the planet and fight climate change, protect and regenerate nature, and preserve resources for future generations. The aim of the company is to achieve net zero emissions from all its products by 2039.

Investing €1 billion (AU$1.89 billion) in a Climate & Nature Fund, the company will use the funds over the next 10 years for projects including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation. The new initiatives will build on the work already underway, such as Ben & Jerry’s initiative to reduce GHG emissions from dairy farms and Knorr supporting farmers to grow food more sustainably.

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, explained: “While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us. Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity — all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously. In doing so, we must also recognise that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business and through direct action by our brands.”

Unilever’s existing science-based targets include: no carbon emissions from its own operations and to halve the GHG footprint of its products across the value chain by 2030. The company is additionally committing to net zero emissions from all its products by 2039 — from the sourcing of materials up to the point of sale of its products in stores. It also aims to communicate the carbon footprint of every product it sells; to do this, it plans to set up a system for its suppliers to declare, on each invoice, the carbon footprint of the goods and services provided.

Other measures and commitments include:

  • creating partnerships with other businesses and organisations to standardise data collection, sharing and communication;
  • calling on all government to set net-zero targets, along with short-term emissions reduction targets, supported with enabling policy frameworks such as carbon pricing;
  • plans to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. To do this, it will increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies, such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain, accelerating smallholder inclusion and changing its approach to derivates sourcing;
  • commitment to working with the industry, NGOs and governments to look beyond forests, peatlands and tropical rainforests to protect other areas of high conservation value and high carbon stock;
  • setting out to help regenerate nature by increasing local biodiversity, restoring soil health and preserving water conservation and access;
  • introducing a Regenerative Agriculture Code for its suppliers. The code will build on the company’s existing Sustainable Agriculture Code, and will include details on farming practices that help build critical resources;
  • increasing its direct efforts to preserve water, by implementing water stewardship programs for local communities in 100 locations by 2030 and plans to join the 2030 Water Resources Group;
  • stretching its targets to halve its use of virgin plastic in its packaging.

In alignment with Unilever’s global climate goals, Unilever Australia has:

  • joined WWF Australia in calling on leaders to make Australia the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy by 2030, detailed in its Australian renewable export COVID-19 recovery package;
  • joined Unilever globally in switching to 100% renewable electricity to power all operations;
  • initiated a five-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with energy retailer Red Energy, which directly supports a number of wind and solar farms across NSW, Victoria & South Australia.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/BillionPhotos.com

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