Looking to return to long-term planning as the world slowly emerges from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Unilever (NYSE:UL) announced today it's launching a new multi-front initiative to respond to climate change. The multinational consumer goods company, which makes everything from a variety of food brands to soap, says it's launching a $1.1 billion "Climate & Nature Fund," among other measures.
The climate fund will be used for projects such as "landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation." The goal is to greatly expand environmental initiatives already begun by some of Unilever's brands, such as Seventh Generation.
Unilever has also pledged several ecologically minded changes to its entire product line, with several key dates highlighted. The company says it is using digital technology such as blockchain and satellite observation to achieve a supply chain that is "deforestation-free" by 2023.
The next milestone after that is to make all of the company's approximately 70,000 products biodegradable by 2030. This will require reformulation of many Unilever products, with the real possibility it will need to develop completely new ingredients to meet the goal. Finally, by 2039, Unilever plans to have net zero emissions, from source to shelf. If the deadline is achieved, the company would reach Paris Agreement goals 11 years early.
Unilever CEO 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."