Global consumer brands company Unilever announced today that it intends to seek shareholder approval for its climate transition plans, marking the first time a major global company has voluntarily committed to put its climate transition plans before a shareholder vote.

The company stated that it hopes that this increased level of transparency and accountability will strengthen the dialogue with shareholders and encourage other companies to follow suit.

Unilever’s climate-related sustainability goals include 2030 targets to achieve zero emission from its own operations, and a 50% reduction in the average footprint of its products. Earlier this year, Unilever also introduced targets to reach net zero emissions from sourcing to point of sale by 2039, and to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023.

The Unilever board announced that it will put its plan before shareholders and seek a non-binding advisory vote on the targets, as well as the plans to achieve them. The company plans to present its strategy to reduce emissions within its operations and through its value chain, and to describe how the it is managing risks and meeting consumer needs connected with climate change and societal responses to it. Unilever expects to share its climate transition action plan in Q1 2021, ahead of its AGM on May 5, and intends to seek an advisory vote every three years on any material changes made or proposed to the plan.

Alan Jope, Unilever 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.”