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Unilever’s Threatening to Withdraw from Trade Associations


Unilever, a global consumer products company, asserts it will sever ties with trade associations not aligned with Paris Agreement goals, marking a bold stance on climate policy advocacy.

Selective Evaluation of Trade Associations

In a proactive move, Unilever conducted a meticulous evaluation of 27 trade associations it’s involved with, focusing on their stance towards climate policy. The scrutiny aimed to discern if these entities aid or impede the development of regulations crucial for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Findings and Course of Action

Unilever’s assessment revealed misalignment with its climate policy positions in eight associations, prompting contemplation of withdrawal. However, it identified opportunities for constructive engagement and plans to encourage proactive climate policy advocacy within these groups.

Leadership by Example: Unilever’s Stance on Climate Advocacy

Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Rebecca Marmot, emphasized the company’s commitment to catalyzing positive policy change. Unilever’s willingness to withdraw from influential trade associations underscores its dedication to prioritizing climate action over mere association membership.

Noteworthy Precedent: Exiting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Unilever’s previous departure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce due to misalignment with environmental policies highlights its resolve. This stands out in contrast to many companies that merely pledge net-zero targets without actively supporting them through policy advocacy.

Setting the Agenda: Unilever’s Climate Transition Action Plan

Unilever’s climate transition action plan outlines key areas for policy intervention, including national climate strategies, carbon pricing, renewable energy promotion, nature conservation, and carbon accounting standard improvements.

Unilever’s Strategic Approach: Direct and Indirect Advocacy

Unilever acknowledges the significant influence wielded by trade associations in shaping climate policy. It actively engages both directly and indirectly through its association memberships, leveraging its influence for constructive change.

Commitment to Transparency and Accountability

Unilever commits to regular reviews of its trade association memberships, ensuring alignment with its climate objectives. This commitment to transparency fosters accountability and sets a precedent for corporate climate action.

Fostering Change Beyond Its Walls

Unilever’s proactive stance on climate advocacy not only advances its own sustainability goals but also sets a precedent for other companies. By promoting constructive partnerships and heightened scrutiny, Unilever aims to drive systemic change across industries.

Conclusion: Unilever’s Climate Leadership

Unilever’s decision to hold trade associations accountable for their climate policy positions exemplifies corporate leadership in addressing the climate crisis. As it navigates its path towards sustainability, Unilever sets a compelling example for businesses worldwide, emphasizing the critical role of corporate advocacy in driving meaningful climate action.

Related: Unilever’s Ambitious Climate Transition Action Plan

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