Unilever Plc. announced Friday that it would stop using coal energy by 2020, and planned to use only renewable energy by 2030. Unilever’s comments came ahead of United Nations climate change conference in Paris, which is slated to begin from Nov. 30.
Unilever, along with 80 other companies, signed a pledge last month to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change. The British-Dutch company said it is aiming to become "carbon positive" by 2030 through investing in producing more renewable energy than it requires, while selling the excess and making it available to markets and locals in areas where Unilever managed its operations, the Guardian reported.
"We obviously want Paris to be ambitious and successful," Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO, told the Guardian. "[It will be] if the agreement has the right things in there, like a zero goal, a decarbonization goal. I’m for 2050. Perhaps if we’re lucky they will say by the end of this century, but that’s a starting point."
Polman is one of the business leaders, touted as "The B Team," who want governments to work toward zero net emissions by 2050. Unilever raised the 2020 target of using renewable energy to 50 percent while it planned to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, up from 28 percent in 2014. The company said it saved more than $424 million by following eco-friendly measures adopted at its factories since 2008, Reuters reported.
"If we don't tackle climate change we won't achieve economic growth. This is an issue for all businesses, not just Unilever. We all have to act," Polman, said, in a statement, according to Reuters.
Over the past few months, an increasing number of companies have decided to invest more in renewable energy. In February, Apple Inc. announced a 1.7 billion euro ($1.9 billion) plan to build two data centers in Denmark and Ireland powered by renewable energy. The Cupertino-based company also said at the time that it would invest about $850 million to buy power from a massive solar plant just south of Silicon Valley.
IKEA, the world's biggest furniture retailer, said earlier this year that it would invest heavily in renewable energy to generate all the energy used in its shops and factories from clean sources by 2020, Reuters reported.
On Tuesday, Germany's Allianz SE, said it would no longer invest in companies if more than 30 percent of sales were generated from coal mining or if they produce over 30 percent of electricity from the fossil fuel.