By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Multinational conglomerate Unilever said Monday it would be the first major company to put its ambitious climate change goals before a shareholder vote.
The global consumer goods giant said in a statement that it believes the global shift to net zero emissions “will require a greater and deeper level of engagement between companies and their investors about their climate transition plans.”
By voluntarily submitting its plans before shareholders for a vote, Unilever said it hopes that other firms will follow suit.
“Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time and we are determined to play a leadership role in accelerating the transition to a zero carbon economy,” Alan Jope, Unilever’s chief executive, said in a statement.
“We have a wide ranging and ambitious set of climate commitments — but we know they are only as good as our delivery against them,” he added. “That’s why we will be sharing more detail with our shareholders who are increasingly wanting to understand more about our strategy and plans.”
Jope said the company welcomes the increased transparency and will be as clear as possible in its climate plan “both about the areas in our direct control where we have a high degree of certainty of our route to net zero, as well as more challenging areas across our value chain where systemic solutions will be required to achieve our targets.”
Among the company’s ambitious climate goals are achieving zero emissions from its own operations by 2030, reducing the average footprint of its products by 50% by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions from sourcing to point of sale for its products by 2039.
Unilever’s shareholders are expected to vote on the climate plan next May.
Unilever’s announcement comes as public pressure on firms to reduce emissions and increase transparency about climate change goals has increased. The private sector as a whole has also faced renewed pressure to tackle climate change issues head-on.
Last month, 42 leading U.S. companies including Amazon and Walmart penned a letter urging President-elect Joe Biden to re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement and enact ambitious climate change solutions. In the letter, the companies called climate action “a business imperative.”
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