Rebecca Marmot is the chief sustainability officer at Unilever, which has a target to reach net-zero emissions across their value chain by 2039. The company also supports nine regenerative agriculture projects covering 48,000 hectares of soy, rice, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and dairy in North America, Europe, and South Asia. As of this year, these projects resulted in between 6% and 48% lower greenhouse gas emissions, saw reduced nitrate runoff, and supported pollinators.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
Align to 1.5°C by being ruthless on value chain emissions. The science is clear. At 1.2°C warming, climate impacts are already starting to bite with real ferocity, yet we are currently on track for around 2.7°C warming. We need a step change in delivery, scale, and pace—with companies setting and following through on science-based targets and governments catalyzing this by putting in place clear and consistent policies that support rapid transformations. For instance, conditions that accelerate our supply chain shift to ingredients with renewable feedstocks, to use in our cleaning products.
What sustainability effort do you hope will gain popularity with the general public this year, and why?
More and more people are using their purchasing power as a force for good and choose sustainable brands where they can. The responsibility is now on companies to redouble efforts and industry wide collaborations to bake sustainability into our supply chains and brilliant products—focusing on value and values so that people never need to make a choice between price, performance, and sustainability. Addressing supply chain emissions is a challenge that many companies are facing. By working together, we can accelerate progress by finding and implementing solutions that benefit business while delivering the emission cuts needed.
Where should climate activism go in the next year?
Elevate the role of nature as a critical component of the climate agenda so that it gets the recognition and financing it deserves. The connection between nature and climate has long been overlooked, yet nature plays a crucial role in helping combat climate change. Peatlands, wetlands, soil, forests, and oceans are the best ways to absorb and store carbon. Ecosystem degradation not only limits nature’s capacity to mitigate climate change, but actively contributes to it—this is a crucial area for attention. And keep doing the hard work of forcing governments and companies to be accountable to their climate and nature targets.
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