Consumer goods giant Unilever is to put its climate transition proposals before shareholders for their approval.

The Marmite and Ben & Jerry’s brands owner will seek backing for its emissions reduction targets at its AGM in May.

Unilever said it will “set out the company’s climate strategy to reduce emissions within its operations through its value chain, as well as describe how the company is managing risks and meeting consumer needs connected with climate change and societal responses to it”.

It suggested this is the first time a major global company has voluntarily committed to put its climate transition plans before a shareholder vote.  

Unilever argues 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”.

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By GlobalData

“In setting out our plan, we hope this increased level of transparency and accountability will strengthen the dialogue with our shareholders and encourage other companies to follow suit,” it said.

Those plans include zero emissions from its own operations by 2030, a 50% reduction in the average footprint of its products by the same date and net zero emissions from sourcing to point of sale by 2039. 

It said achieving these targets will require a range of measures, including decarbonising the raw materials it sources, completing the transition of its operations to 100% renewable energy, and eliminating deforestation from its supply chain.

The plans will be fully outlined in the first quarter of 2021.

Alan Jope, Unilever's CEO, said: "Climate change is the most-pressing issue of our time and we are  determined to play a leadership role in accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon economy.  

"We have a wide ranging and ambitious set of climate commitments - but we know they are only as good as our delivery against them. That's why we will be sharing more detail with our shareholders who are increasingly wanting to understand more about our strategy and plans. 

"We welcome this increased transparency and in the plan we present, we will be clear both about the areas in our direct control where we have a high degree of certainty of our route to net zero, as well as more challenging areas across our value chain where systemic solutions will be required to achieve our targets."