Unilever to put its climate change plans to shareholder vote

The company logo for Unilever in New York, U.S.

Consumer packaged goods giant Unilever Plc said on Monday it would seek shareholder approval on its plans to tackle climate change, making it the world’s largest company to put such a move up for a vote.

Shareholders will be allowed to vote on steps, including reducing emissions to net zero from its own operations and halving the environmental impact of products by 2030.

The maker of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Lipton tea is also aiming to cut emissions to net zero from sourcing to point of sale by 2039, 11 years ahead of the Paris agreement deadline. “Unilever believes that the economy-wide shift to net-zero emissions will require a greater and deeper level of engagement between companies and their investors about their climate transition plans,” the nearly $120 billion food-to-beauty-products conglomerate said.

The Anglo-Dutch firm’s move comes at a time when shareholders have been putting pressure on companies to respond to the “scale and urgency” of the climate change crisis.

Larger rival Procter & Gamble in October faced a shareholder rebellion on its efforts to tackle climate change, with two-thirds of votes cast in favour of a proposal mandating the Tide detergent maker to be more transparent about the way it sourced palm oil and was reducing deforestation.

BlackRock Inc, the world’s biggest asset manager, said last week that it would more than double the number of companies it engages with over climate-related issues.

Unilever said it would be sharing a climate-action plan ahead of its annual general meeting on May 5, where it will be put to a shareholder vote. The company will then seek a non-binding advisory vote every three years on any “material” changes made or proposed.

The company also plans to report on its progress against the plan annually starting 2022.

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