Unilever's Alan Jope says company "will not back down" on sustainability agenda

Unilever’s Alan Jope says company “will not back down” on sustainability agenda

Unilever CEO Alan Jope reaffirmed the consumer goods giant’s sustainability agenda on Tuesday, saying he “won’t back down” despite backlash against “ant sustainability” and “anti-awakening” .

The chief executive, speaking during a panel Tuesday at the 2022 Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, called the “anti-sustainability” and “anti-awakening” backlash “incredibly dangerous for the world.” He also argued that saying “we have a climate emergency” has become unpopular.

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“The first thing that Unilever will do is that we will not back down from this agenda despite these populist accusations,” he said.

He added that “there are a lot of commitments out there but not a lot of plans.” Unilever unveiled its Climate Transition Action Plan in March 2021, announcing the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions within the company to zero by 2030 and across its “value chain” to net zero by 2039. .

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Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, August 21, 2018. (REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters Photos)

The consumer goods giant put its sustainability plan to a shareholder vote in which it “exceeded 99.6% shareholder support,” Jope said. He credited BlackRock with leading the support, describing the investment firm as “one of the best commentators on sustainability and what companies should be doing.”

BlackRock, spearheaded by Larry Fink, has become a leader in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments and is driving other companies to embrace such agendas in a commitment to decarbonization, sustainability and social justice causes.

Fink and Sustainability Energy for All Executive Director Damilola Ogunbiyi also participated in the panel, which was hosted by former President Bill Clinton.

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During the panel, Jope also seemed to ask for more consistent reporting on sustainability metrics. He previously expressed his support for standardized and mandatory ESG reporting metrics in a September 2020 tweet.

“We consistently report financial metrics around the world, but now we’re in great danger of fragmenting reporting of non-financial metrics,” he said on the panel, highlighting separate initiatives by the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s sustainability board and others.

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“We need to go a little slower to go faster” on consistent ESG reporting metrics, he argued.

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