Unilever’s factories, offices, R&D facilities, data centers, warehouses and distribution centers across five continents are now powered by 100% renewable grid electricity, the company announced today.
Unilever’s transition to renewable electricity has been delivered through supporting the development of local renewable energy markets, with 38% of its grid electricity supplied through corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and green electricity tariffs. Where it has not been feasible to do this, Unilever has purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) — openly-traded certificates linked to renewable electricity generation.
“Congratulations to Unilever – achieving 100% renewable electricity across five continents means the company is quickly advancing on its RE100 goal as it works to become a ‘carbon neutral’ company by 2030,” said Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100 at The Climate Group. “Through its membership of RE100, global companies like Unilever are sending a strong demand signal to the few markets where renewables remain harder to access. They want to be able to source renewable electricity locally at an affordable price – and they want to do that now.”
The announcement comes ahead of Unilever taking to the stage at the opening ceremony of Climate Week NYC and participating in the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, where it joins leaders from government and business in advocating for the importance of limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5°C – in line with the Paris Agreement.
Unilever’s achievement is a significant step towards its target to become a carbon neutral company before 2030. Unilever has worked with partners around the world to generate renewable electricity at its own sites, with solar power in use at Unilever facilities in 18 countries.
“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.
“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,” Engel added.
A substantial contribution to the announcement comes from Unilever’s investment in energy efficiency programs, which have led to a reduction in total energy consumption of 28%, and to the halving of carbon emissions per ton of production since 2008, as well as the introduction of on-site solar electricity generation. There have been no net on-costs to get to this point. Savings that Unilever was able to generate through mechanisms such as PPAs have counterbalanced additional costs.