Unilever has pledged to invest €1bn (£900m) over the next decade in environmental projects that will improve the “health of the planet”.
Alan Jope, Unilever’s chief executive, said that while the world was rightly focused on the devastating coronavirus outbreak and serious issues of inequality raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, the climate emergency should not be overlooked. “We can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us,” he said.
The consumer goods giant, which owns more than 400 brands including Marmite, Dove, Comfort and Sure, said that in response to the “scale and urgency of the climate crisis”, it was also setting a target of net-zero emissions from all its products by 2039.
The company has already promised to reduce the mountain of plastic rubbish that its products generate, but Jope said it was just as important to look at the “impact they have on the planet at the start of their life” – in the sourcing of materials, as well as in their manufacture and transport.
Unilever said its €1bn “Climate & Nature Fund” would be used to fund projects ranging from landscape restoration and carbon capture to wildlife protection and water preservation. It also pledges to have a “deforestation-free” supply chain within three years, and to harness emerging digital technologies – such as satellite monitoring and geolocation tracking – to increase traceability and transparency.
Jope has warned that the company would sell off brands that could not meet its own sustainability targets. It was no longer enough for consumer goods companies to sell washing powders that made shirts whiter or shampoos that make hair shinier, because consumers wanted brands that had a “purpose” too, he said.
Last week, the FTSE 100-listed company announced that it had picked London as its home in an about-face on the company’s 2018 decision to opt for Rotterdam, which was abandoned after a revolt by British shareholders. If investors back the plan, it will bring an end to the company’s complex dual structure, a hangover from Unilever’s formation through the merger of a Dutch margarine producer and a British soapmaker 91 years ago.
Article Source: The Guardian