The Dutch firm says it will achieve the target by eliminating coal from its energy mix and sourcing all grid electricity from renewable sources by 2020. By 2030, it plans for all energy to come from renewable sources.

In order to become carbon positive, the company said: “We intend to directly support the generation of more renewable energy than we consume and make the surplus available to the markets and communities in which we operate”.

“Of course it will be challenging to achieve and is highly market dependant.”

Unilever was recently named by sustainability experts as having made the biggest contribution to advancing solutions to climate change in the past five years.


The company is already a member of the RE100 initiative and saw half of its growth last year come from ‘sustainable brands’. It also has zero deforestation and zero-waste-to-landfill goals.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “The reality is, if we don’t tackle climate change we won’t achieve economic growth. This is an issue for all businesses, not just Unilever. We all have to act.

“Runaway climate change could wipe out development gains of the last century in little more than a generation. The World Bank now estimates that climate change could push more than 100 million additional people back into poverty by 2030. This is not acceptable for governments, business, civil society and humanity as a whole.”

“A high level of ambition is needed from Paris, which will act as a strong signal to investors. We also need to see businesses doing more to tackle climate change in their own operations and encouraging world leaders to be bold. We must seize the business opportunities presented by the green economy to make sure the Paris commitments are met, or even better, exceeded.”

Reacting to the Unilever’s announcement, David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, said: “This is welcome news from one of the world’s biggest companies. On the eve of the UN Climate Summit in Paris it shows strong leadership from a company that can clearly see the link between sustainability and business growth.”

Brad Allen

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