Unilever announced as latest COP26 Principal Partner

The UK's COP26 Unit said in a statement that the Partnership should encourage other FMCG firms to bolster their environmental strategies 

The company joins Salesforce, Microsoft, SSE, ScottishPower, NatWest Group, National Grid, Sainsbury’s, Hitachi, GSK and Reckitt as Principal Partners, as well as Sky, the Principal Media Partner.

When the UK COP26 Unit first began seeking sponsors for the conference, which is taking place in Glasgow in November following a one-year delay as a result of Covid-19, it stated that it would only sign deals with companies with net-zero targets for 2050 or sooner. Sponsorship criteria also includes “credible short-term plans” to deliver against long-term climate targets.

Unilever updated its climate targets last year, unveiling a new €1bn Climate and Nature fund to support their delivery. Targets include reaching net-zero emissions for products by 2039; achieving a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023; making all products biodegradable by 2030 and scaling up regenerative agriculture.

This year, the company put its plans for delivering against these targets – its ‘Climate Transition Action Plan’ – to a shareholder vote. The Plan passed with support exceeding 99%. It is designed to halve the impact of products across their life-cycle by 2030.

In announcing the Partnership, the UK’s COP26 unit was keen to emphasise Unilever’s work with the UK Government. The firm is collaborating with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to explore the viability of hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas to fuel manufacturing plants. It is also a member of the UK’s Global Resource Initiative Taskforce, which convenes business leaders, green groups and academics to reduce the impact of international supply chains serving Britain.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said: “Tackling climate change is one of the greatest and most urgent challenges we face, and companies like Unilever are showing climate leadership through science-based targets and finding alternative, cleaner ways of working.”

“Without decisive action on a global scale, climate change is the biggest long-term risk to Unilever’s business, and I know we are not unique in this,” Unilever’s chief executive Alan Jope said.

“Taking decisive action to help address climate change is not only important for people and the planet, it’s also critical for business. Unilever is proud to be a Principal Partner of COP26. 

“We look forward to working with the UK Government and other partners to galvanise ambitious commitments from governments and the private sector and to inspire and empower people around the world to take action. Together, we can seize the opportunity to build a stronger, greener and more resilient economy.”

The announcement from Unilever comes shortly after edie launched the first edition of its new COP26 Action Tracker – a regular article series providing a regular temperature check of global climate action from nations and businesses in the run-up to the conference. Highlights in this edition include clarity on whether COP26 will take place face-to-face, the outcomes of the G7 Summit and the UK Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) recent major reports. You can read that article here.

You can read all of edie’s COP26-related content here.

Sarah George

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