Time for action: your guide to Unilever and COP 22
To mark the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP 22 for short – we look at how Unilever is contributing to climate action.
What's happening at COP 22?
In 2015, COP 21 produced the Paris Agreement – an unprecedented accord bringing all nations into a common cause to combat climate change. Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, addressed COP 21, calling for climate action, and welcomed the Paris Agreement as “an unequivocal signal to the business and financial communities, one that will drive real change in the global economy”.
By October 2016, enough nations had ratified the Paris Agreement to reach a threshold called ‘entry-into-force’. This happened on 4 November 2016.
That means COP 22, held in Marrakech, Morocco, is the first meeting between the parties to what is now a binding agreement. It is also an important opportunity to agree vital details of how it will work in practice, and for us to play our part in building momentum for action.
How are we involved?
Our purpose as a business is ‘making sustainable living commonplace’, so combating climate change is a huge priority. Our team at COP22 – led by Paul – will call on businesses and others to show leadership, work more closely together, and turn the ambitions of the Paris Agreement into real actions that benefit the environment and people everywhere, particularly in the developing world. For an in-depth look at how COP 22 matters - to the climate, and to our business - read this overview by our Global Climate Advocacy & Sustainability Strategy Director Thomas Lingard.
How are contributing to climate action?
Our ambition is to be carbon positive within our operations by 2030. This means 100% of our energy across our operations will come from renewable sources. Working with partners, we will support the generation of more renewable energy than we need ourselves, making the surplus available to the markets and communities in which we operate.
We’re already making progress, investing in both generating and purchasing renewable energy. Since 2008, our factory sites have reduced CO2 from energy by 39% per tonne of production, and reduced energy use by 24%. By 2020, we are aiming to eliminate coal from our energy mix and source all our electricity purchased from the grid from renewable sources.
While tackling our own CO2 emissions is important, it’s only part of the story. Collaborating with partners and seeking to influence public policy are crucial to bring about the large-scale changes needed to address climate change. This is work that we’ll be advancing at COP22