The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins our global strategy and sets out to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint, while increasing our positive social impact. We want to use our scale as a force for good.
Tackling climate change requires transformational changes to the broader systems in which we operate. For this we need strong government policy that creates the right context for change and business action. It’s critical that organisations from all sectors work in collaboration, partnering on projects and initiatives to take action.
“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face, as a society and as a business. A low-emission economy makes sense from an environmental, social and economic perspective, and needs to be included in any business’ long-term strategy.”Nick Bangs, Managing Director, Unilever New Zealand.
We’re advocating for policies that advance the goal of the Paris Agreement. That is, limiting global temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees, and ideally 1.5 degrees, by the end of the century.
We’re doing this through ambitious targets within our own operations and working in partnership with others to scale up action around the world through multiple private sector groups and coalitions. Nothing is more powerful than demonstrating to governments that accelerated progress in decarbonising the economy is actually possible. That is why in the lead up to COP21, we announced our carbon positive targets in 2015 ahead of the Paris Agreement, building on our 20 year track record of cutting our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Science-based targets focus purely on GHG emission reduction and are informed by independent climate science. These transparent targets ensure a company’s emissions are in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, reached in 2015 when 195 of the world’s governments committed to prevent the worst effects of catastrophic climate change by limiting average global temperature increases this century to well below two degrees Celsius.
At Unilever, we have an approved science-based target to reduce our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions (those from our direct operations such as manufacturing and offices, and from the energy we use) by 100% by 2030, compared to our 2015 figures.
We also have a target in place to halve the GHG impact of our products across their lifecycle – including Scope 3 emissions (from suppliers and consumers) – by 2030, compared to our 2010 figures.
These targets set the basis and guiding principles for all climate action strategy at Unilever. All our brands are covered by our overall targets, and some have also set themselves individual science-based targets that go beyond our overarching goals, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and Pukka.
In addition to our policy engagement and advocacy efforts, we are taking strong action to decouple our growth from our impact and demonstrate that decarbonisation of the economy is both possible and makes good business sense. We have started this journey in Australia and New Zealand and have developed a renewable energy strategy outlining our roadmap for meeting this ambition.
Specifically, Unilever is committed to decreasing the environmental impact throughout our range of products through water use, waste and packaging, sustainable sourcing and greenhouse gases by:
• Sourcing all electricity purchased from the grid from renewable sources by 2020
• Sourcing 100% of energy across all operations from renewable sources by 2030
• Eliminating coal from our energy mix by 2020
• Directly supporting the generation of more renewable energy than we consume, making the surplus available to the markets and communities where we operate by 2030.
In 2016, we proudly took out the Business Leadership category at the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage Green Globe Awards which recognise businesses that have fully integrated environmental management and sustainable practices into all aspects of their strategy and operations in Australia.
Over 60% of our value chain greenhouse gas footprint comes from consumer use, primarily from heated water for showering and washing clothes, which is more difficult to influence.
Technology and innovation play a critical part in addressing climate change - and in opening up the business opportunities that a low-carbon economy will bring. We’re using our knowledge and resources in innovation, and Research and Development, to bring people the products they enjoy but which respond to the challenge of climate change, while creating business growth opportunities. For example, our concentrated liquid laundry detergents, such as Persil and OMO, enable people to wash their clothes at lower temperatures, reducing GHG emissions by up to 50% per load.
Our Love Beauty and Planet conditioners use innovative technology which helps them break down into smaller molecules and rinse out faster than conventional products. This gives consumers the opportunity to shave time off their shower, saving water and energy in the process.
We are also looking at different ways to reduce the carbon impact of our offices. By downsizing our New Zealand office in October 2018 and further embracing principles like agile working – using technologies such as cloud computing, Video Presence and Skype for Business – we've been able to reduce energy use, employee travel and therefore our CO2 footprint. Since downsizing, our Auckland office has reduced energy use by 29% compared to October 2017, without reducing our headcount. Agile working also means employees have greater control over when, where and how they work. This helps increase employees’ wellbeing, and our research shows it helps us attract and retain the best talent to drive higher productivity. Find out more about this here.
We will continue to work towards a low carbon fleet in line with our global target of 100% electric vehicles by 2030, particularly as infrastructure for electric vehicles continues to improve. In 2017, Unilever was the first FMCG organisation to join. As part of EV100, we have committed to a phased integration of electric vehicles into the fleets that we directly control – the ones we own or lease. We are aiming for these fleets to be 25% EV/hybrid by 2020, 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2030.
We have shifted 56% of our New Zealand fleet to hybrid in the past year, with the remainder of the fleet anticipated to be fully hybrid by August 2019. In the past year this has seen a 39% reduction in emissions from our fleet with employees engaged and happy to be helping reduce our carbon footprint as well as reporting that the cars are preferable to the previously used vehicles. This is contributing to the 10,000 vehicles across New Zealand that are now electric and no longer reliant on petrol.
In 2014, Unilever was a founding signatory of the RE100 global campaign for influential businesses to commit to using 100% renewable electricity and in October 2018, we joined 31 major corporates at the first Australian meeting of the RE100. We are also proud to be part of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s, a project which aims to accelerated large scale renewable energy usage across Australia.
In New Zealand, Unilever is a signatory of the which aims to help New Zealand transition to a low emissions economy and create a positive future for New Zealanders, business and the economy.
We also continue to work with organisations and initiatives such as, , , , and to help drive alignment, scale and momentum in both the private sector’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Australia’s role in achieving the 2015 Paris Climate Conference Agreement to keep global warming below 2C.
In early 2019, Ben and Jerry’s teamed up again with 350.org to create the #VoteClimate campaign. Working alongside the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Ben and Jerry’s found out that while many university students were eligible to vote, many were not enrolled and so their voices were not getting heard. To help solve this problem, they ran a campaign and a university O-week tour to help university students check they were properly enrolled. Overall, they had over 3,000 conversations about climate change and about 2,100 young Australians confirmed their enrolment.
This followed a campaign in late 2018 where Ben and Jerry’s released a limited edition flavour – – a direct (and tasty) call to action to Australian political leaders to commit to building a fossil-fuel free world by accelerating Australia’s move to renewable energy. The team provided key federal and state politicians with personalised pints of the Gimme S’More Renewables ice cream and made postcards with the simple message of ‘Renewable is Doable’ for Ben and Jerry’s fans to send to their local MP’s to encourage them to support renewable energy policy and a fast, fair and just transition to renewable energy across the country.
As a business, Unilever is committed to shifting to a more renewable future, contributing positively to reducing the GHG impact of our products.
• We have increased our use of energy in our manufacturing operations that is generated from renewable sources; in 2018 this increased to 36.7% compared to 15.8% in 2008.
• By the end of 2018, 111 of our manufacturing sites across 36 countries were using 100% renewable grid electricity. This accounts for 67% of our total grid electricity consumption and includes manufacturing sites across all continents.
• By the end of 2016, we had cut CO2 emissions by 43% per tonne of production and in 2017 this number had increased to 47%. In 2018 we went further with our factory sites reducing CO2 emissions from energy by 52% per tonne of production compared to our 2008 baseline.