Climate change partnerships

The scale of the climate change challenge means that industry, government and civil society have to work together to make a difference.

Our Partners

Beyond our direct emissions, our wider value chain shows greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the value chain - including the sourcing, distribution, consumption and disposal of our products.

We are working with others to reduce our carbon footprint all along this chain.

Supply chain collaboration

We are founding members of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration. CDP aims to increase companies’ disclosure of their greenhouse gas (GHG) management plans and impacts and to encourage them to put reduction plans in place. CDP’s supplier programme has global reach and involves the collaboration of businesses within the supply chain.

We are promoting the involvement of suppliers of both agricultural and non-agricultural based raw materials in the CDP as it represents a global standard approach for disclosure of GHG management plans and performance. We believe that involvement in the CDP is of intrinsic value to our suppliers and we encourage their participation.

Findings from the first-ever global collaboration on climate change between major companies and their suppliers demonstrated the need for increased supplier awareness of the regulatory, physical and general risks that climate change poses to their business. These findings were published in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Supply Chain Report 2009 entitled ‘Shared value: Managing climate change in the supply chain’. See External links for more.

Other reporting platforms exist and may be preferred by suppliers. Regardless of which platform is used, we expect the GHG agenda to become part of ‘business as usual’ with our suppliers, with the express intent that they undertake emission-reduction programmes and set ambitious targets to achieve them.

Working with farmers

In 2010 we released the Cool Farm Tool, a calculator to help farmers reduce their carbon emissions on farms. The calculator is designed to be simple and practical to use, allowing farmers to make changes that will have an impact on reducing emissions. The Tool allows farmers to prioritise options by running different scenarios to see how much of an impact they make and also allows them to take account of management, livestock, field energy use and primary processing, such as in factory and in storage.

Developed by the Sustainable Food Laboratory, University of Aberdeen and Unilever, farmers’ assessment results are recorded in a central database at Aberdeen and then analysed. Unilever will be requiring all its suppliers using our Sustainable Agriculture Code or carrying out self-verification to either use the Cool Farm Tool themselves or provide the necessary data so that carbon footprints can be calculated.

The Cool Farm Tool calculator is free and open source. See Sustainable sourcing tools.

Developing standards

Unilever participates in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, a partnership between the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, to develop standards on the measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. We have provided input in the development of the Product and Scope 3 Accounting Standard.

Tropical Forest alliance 2020

Unilever has lead the process of building the Tropical Forest Alliance, a public-private partnership between the US government and the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). The objective of the partnership is to reduce and eventually eliminate the deforestation associated with the sourcing of commodity crops such as soy, palm oil, beef, pulp and paper.

The Tropical Forest Alliance was announced at the Rio+20 summit in 2012. Since then it has grown rapidly and now includes the governments of Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, Liberia and the USA. On the private sector side most of the businesses come from the CGF -  a large industry body made up of almost all the major retail and consumer goods companies in the world. The combined revenues of these companies amount to more than $3 trillion. The Alliance also has the active support of large numbers of NGOs and Civil Society organisations.

In June 2013, the Tropical Forest Alliance held its first meeting in Jakarta. The event was hosted by the Indonesian government and was opened by President Yudhoyono. It focused on the palm and paper value chains. A similar event will be held in Latin America in 2014 with a focus on soy and beef. In each case the intention is to develop new kinds of partnerships and new sources of funding to address the challenge of tropical deforestation.

For further details, see Sustainable palm oil.