Unilever on a 2°C trajectory by 2030 with key challenges linked to Scope 3 emissions

Emissions, Shareholder Engagement, Equity

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Analysis from Planet Tracker finds consumer goods giant is expected to align with a 2ºC warming scenario by 2030

  • Unilever on a path to missing crucial targets set by the Science-Based Targets initiative by 45% when it comes to total GhG emissions.
  • Consumer goods giant exposed to overall financial risk of 42% of its current three-year annual operating profit by the end of the decade, around USD 4.4 billion
  • External policy drivers alone including land use regulation, carbon taxes and rising energy prices could hit annual operating profit by over a third


London, 18 May 2023: Financial think tank Planet Tracker releases its latest analysis of CA100+ companies, today revealing that Unilever will be missing emission targets set by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) by 45% leaving it on track for a 2ºC warming scenario by 2030.

Planet Tracker has found that Unilever’s current  emissions mitigation strategies are falling short of a 1.5°C pathway, with the total extrapolated trend of emissions being  10,203 KTCO2e higher than the recommended level by the SBTi by 2030 (when indirect use-phase emissions are excluded) – comparable to the current national emissions of Estonia.

In order to bridge the current gap and achieve its emissions reduction targets, Unilever must reduce its Scope 1, 2, and 3 ‘mandatory’ emissions by 16% by 2025 and 34% by 2030 from a 2022 baseline. To align with a 1.5°C scenario by 2030, Unilever must reduce its Scope 3 ‘mandatory’ emissions in particular by 36% (or 3.55% per year), which it is currently failing to do.

The report has found that while Unilever’s process of identifying risks and opportunities is robust, quantifiable metrics for mitigating or managing these identified risks and opportunities are rarely provided and when they are, only as isolated case studies.

By Planet Tracker’s assessment, Unilever faces a total financial risk of between USD 1.5 billion and 3.8 billion in the next decade from external policy drivers, including land use regulation, carbon taxes and rising energy prices – representing up to 36% of Unilever’s current three-year average annual operating profit. Also, in Planet Tracker’s view, climate-change related impacts would account for close to 6% of Unilever’s current three-year average annual operating profit.

Planet Tracker’s analysis finds that there is limited linkage between the company’s GhG mitigation initiatives and its disclosed investments of USD 1.2 billion necessary to support these ambitions, particularly on how it decarbonises its value chain. As a consequence, there is a considerable shortfall in the company’s risk management, which does not clearly validate its alignment with a 1.5ºC scenario by 2030.

Ion Visinovschi, Research Analyst at Planet Tracker comments, “Unilever has put forward a commendable climate transition plan aimed at reducing its broad environmental impact. However, without a disclosed link between investment, mitigation actions per scope, and expected mitigated GhG emissions amount – even presented as a range – we cannot determine whether Unilever’s proposed strategy will lead to the achievement of its goal.

“Investors should demand a higher level of disclosures connecting actions with investment and expected mitigation outcomes, in order to ensure the company’s targets have the potential of being reached”.

The Climate Transition Analysis of Unilever is the fifth in a series examining the climate transition plans of Consumer Goods companies in the Climate Action 100+ list. Planet Tracker’s research into Unilever follows analysis of Nestlé, whose emissions trajectory is also found to be lacking in certain details.

The report can be downloaded in full here.



For more information please contact:

Josh Hoppen, ESG Communications | t: +34 612 28 72 64 | josh@esgcommunications.com



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 (https://www.climateaction100.org/whos-involved/companies). 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.