Analysis of FMCG giants finds greenwashing risk and a lack of detail in climate transition plans


A new combined study by Planet Tracker finds Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble lagging behind Unilever

  • Analysis of top consumer goods giants finds Unilever’s transition plan to be most credible, highlighting its consideration of Scope 3 emissions and the link between management remuneration and sustainability, yet some gaps remain.
  • Current emission trends put 14% of Unilever’s annual operating income at risk due to Potential Carbon Pricing Mechanisms, while Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble would have 30% and 51% of current operating profits at risk respectively.
  • Despite companies publicly committing to initiatives claiming to tackle downstream indirect emissions, Planet Tracker warns investors these are optional and do not contribute to the required mitigation to align with the Paris Agreement.

London, 17 August 2023: Today, Planet Tracker releases its combined analysis of three leading consumer goods companies with a combined market cap of USD 538 billion, to help investors compare company climate transition plans and identify best practices for alignment with 1.5ºC by 2030.

Using a robust proprietary assessment framework aligning with most available frameworks and disclosures including CDP, Planet Tracker reveals a systematic failure to tackle upstream Scope 3 emissions effectively, which puts Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble on a +3oC pathway with expected emissions 7 times higher than recommended level set by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) by 2030.

The report demonstrates that Unilever, which is found to be on a path to surpass 1.5 times over the recommended SBTi level, exhibits a more comprehensive mitigation strategy for Scope 3 emissions, especially upstream, a link between remuneration and sustainability goals and comprehensive disclosure on the financial risk associated with Carbon Pricing Mechanisms.

Planet Tracker also calculated the magnitude of the companies’ emissions when downstream “optional” Scope 3 emissions – i.e. emissions derived from the use of other products and services together with the companies’ brands – are included.

The findings show that emissions for Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble are up to 3, 5 and 8 times higher respectively when optional indirect emissions are accounted for. Procter & Gamble’s total emissions for example are 26 MTCO2e, but when downstream Scope 3 emissions are included increase to 200 MTCO2e – almost equivalent to the national emissions of France.

While Planet Tracker notes the challenging nature of measuring and impacting downstream emissions, it commends Unilever for including in its targets the downstream Scope 3 emissions the company has control over, such as transportation and distribution. However, the financial think tank does not recommend the inclusion of downstream indirect emissions in the companies’ transition targets due to the low control over them.

Planet Tracker estimates that continuing with their current trends of emissions could cost Unilever 14% of its historic annual operating profit (USD 1.5 billion), Colgate-Palmolive 30% of profit (USD 1.1 billion) and Procter & Gamble 51% of profit (USD 6.7 billion).

Ion Visinovschi, Research Analyst at Planet Tracker, remarks, “Our comparison of leading consumer goods companies demonstrates a worrying trend of companies failing to effectively tackle direct Scope 3 emissions, especially upstream, which if not mitigated soon could cost billions of dollars in the future.

“While Unilever is on track for a +2ºC pathway and thus still has some work to do, the comparison between companies allows us to see how far behind giants like Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble are from the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement. 

“We urge investors to be wary of public initiatives claiming to tackle indirect emissions, which could be linked to substantial emission reductions, as such reductions could come from other actors such as the public grid renewable electrification. Instead, investors should encourage these companies to increase their ambitions on Scope 3 emissions they have a direct impact such as their supply chain.”

Planet Tracker calls on these leading consumer goods companies and other industry peers to prioritize the reduction of upstream Scope 3 emissions, given the substantial economic and market risks associated with inaction.

The Comparative Analysis of Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble is a thematic analysis of the top Consumer Goods brands in the Food, Personal Care and Home Care sectors. The analysis follows Planet Tracker’s comprehensive series examining the climate transition plans of Consumer Goods companies on the Climate Action 100+ list. Previous individual analyses reveal that many companies, including Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble are on a path to miss crucial targets set by the Paris Agreement, further underscoring the urgency for effective Scope 3 emissions reduction.


Read the full report here

For more information please contact:

Izzy Schaw Miller, ESG Communications | t: +44 7905 619881 |


Planet Tracker is a non-profit financial think tank producing analytics and reports to align capital markets with planetary boundaries. Our mission is to create significant and irreversible transformation of global financial activities by 2030. By informing, enabling and mobilising the transformative power of capital markets we aim to deliver a financial system that is fully aligned with a net-zero, nature-positive economy. Planet Tracker proactively engages with financial institutions to drive change in their investment strategies. We ensure they know exactly what risk is built into their investments and identify opportunities from funding the systems transformations we advocate.


As part of its Food and Land Use programme, Planet Tracker is examining the transition plans of the food system (Consumer Goods) companies covered by the Climate Action 100+ list ( The goal is to provide investors with the key information and analysis they need to be able to hold food system companies to account for the quality of their climate transition plans and their execution against those plans, and to encourage them to use this information to engage effectively with these companies with the ultimate aim of driving the sustainable transformation of the global food system.