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LONDON—Unilever is now using 100% renewable energy across its facilities on five continents, the company announced today.
This use of renewable energy is occurring in a wide variety of spaces operated by the CPG giant, including its offices, research and development sites, factories, data centers, distribution centers and warehouses. Unilever is using only renewable energy in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and North America.
With this news, Unilever has beat its goal of reaching this point of using 100% renewable energy by 2020, and it aims to be a completely carbon-neutral company by 2030—a spokesperson for the company calls this current milestone a “significant step” towards that latter goal.
Unilever is also continuing to invest in energy-efficiency programs, which so far have led to a 28% drop in total energy consumption for the company and cut the carbon emissions per ton of production in half in the past 11 years. These goals are a part of Unilever’s work as an RE100 company, an organization that urges companies to commit to using renewable energy. It has also employed methods such as an internal “carbon tax” of €40 per ton of carbon emissions, which it has then put back towards projects that will have a positive effect on the climate globally. That project has led to €120 million put into such projects.
“The climate emergency is one of the most urgent challenges we’re all facing,” said Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at Unilever. “Our team have worked hard to secure renewable energy contracts for our sites across five continents, accelerating the delivery of our 100% renewable energy targets.”
Engel added: “Of course, there is more work to do, but we hope that today’s announcement will inspire further action elsewhere and help to prove that it is possible to combat the climate crisis and hold global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Renewable is doable.”
Unilever reached this milestone through its support of renewable energy markets at a local level, near their sites and facilities, but also through the use of corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) and green electricity tariffs. This move has had no net costs to Unilever—PPAs have provided savings to the company that have balanced other expenses it’s taken on in the process of hitting this goal.
Unilever will be participating in Climate Week NYC, a summit on climate change at the end of the month that coincides with the United Nations General Assembly. The company will also be participating in the U.N. Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, where it will advocate for limiting the rise of global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the guideline in the Paris Agreement.