Unilever CEO Sees Biden Victory As Positive for Climate Change

Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election is positive for companies committed to fighting the climate crisis, Unilever Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope said.

“The capital markets and investors need to invest in properly run sustainable and green businesses,” Jope said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum Wednesday. “In that regard, an administration in the biggest economy in the world that reenters the climate-change debate and a green recovery of course is going to be good for the system.”

Jope also reiterated earlier comments that the “most important” measure governments should take in the near-term is pricing carbon, either through a cap-and-trade mechanism or a carbon tax. Unilever is working with Microsoft Corp. to build a digital model of the planet that will enable the company to label the carbon footprint of each of the products sold under its more than 400 brands, which include Dove soap, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Domestos bleach.

Unilever CEO Sees Biden Victory As Positive for Climate Change

Information relating to issues such as deforestation and social impact will either feature directly on the label or will be accessible online via a QR code, Jope said in the interview with Francine Lacqua.

Unilever has said it’s seeking to embed sustainable practices within each of its brands and that it will consider in the coming years selling those that can’t find a higher social purpose than generating profit. Its recent takeovers, such as the Vegetarian Butcher and Seventh Generation, which makes eco-conscious laundry detergent, have targeted companies with environmental cachets that are particularly attractive to younger shoppers.

The food giant is aiming for 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in sales of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives in the next five to seven years.

“Almost the only thing that’s driving their brand choices is the positions of the companies and the brands on environmental and social issues,” Jope said. “Any company that wants to remain relevant into the future better be thinking about its sustainability behavior.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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