Unilever said it would work to improve access to water in water-stressed areas ©  Thanumporn Thongkongkaew/Getty Images
Unilever said it would work to improve access to water in water-stressed areas © Thanumporn Thongkongkaew/Getty Images

Unilever sets up €1bn climate fund

15 June 2020

Unilever is to invest €1 billion into fighting climate change and protecting and regenerating nature.

The company said it would fund a set of measures and commitments to preserve resources for future generations, and it pledged to achieve net-zero emissions for all its products by 2039.

The company said it would work with farmers on programmes to protect and restore forests, soil and biodiversity, and with governments and other organisations to improve access to water for communities in water-stressed areas.

Over the next 10 years, Unilever’s €1 billion Climate & Nature Fund will be used for projects including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation.

The company is already involved in initiatives such as reducing GHG emissions from dairy farms and supporting farmers to grow food more sustainably.

Unilever already aims to have no carbon emissions from its own operations, and to halve the GHG footprint of its products across the value chain by 2030. To meet the new 2039 target it will prioritise building partnerships with suppliers who have set and committed to their own science-based targets.

It said that it was also setting up a system for suppliers to declare the carbon footprint of the goods and services provided on each invoice, to increase transparency.

The company also wants to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. It said that to do this, it will use emerging digital technologies such as satellite monitoring, geo-location tracking and blockchain, to increase traceability and transparency, providing greater visibility on exact sourcing locations.

As part of a commitment to regenerating nature, the company will fund initiatives for farmers and smallholders including securing legal land rights, access to finance and financial inclusion, and development of restorative practices.

Unilever is also introducing a Regenerative Agriculture Code for all our suppliers, building on its existing Sustainable Agriculture Code, which will include details on farming practices that help rebuild critical resources.

The company said it also planned to implement water stewardship programmes for local communities in 100 locations by 2030, and aimed to make its product formulations biodegradable by 2030 to minimise their impact on water and the aquatic ecosystems.

Unilever chief executive Alan Jope said: “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.”

In May Unilever said it had avoided €1bn in costs through sustainability efforts including water and energy efficiency and producing less waste.

Separately oil giant BP said that Covid-19 was likely to have an enduring impact on the global economy and would probably accelerate the movement towards a lower carbon economy and energy system, as countries seek to “build back better”.

In a update on its strategy to become a net zero company by 2050, BP said lower energy consumption over the longer term was likely, and it believes oil will average around $55 per barrel between 2021-50.

Since February, the company has focused on creating a more diversified, resilient and lower-carbon energy operation, as well as strengthening its finances and becoming a lower cost organisation. It has also been reviewing its portfolio and capital development plans in line with its views on long-term prices.

BP said that there would be non-cash impairment charges and write-offs in the second quarter, of $13bn-$17.5bn after tax.

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