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Let them eat ice cream

By Laura Trevelyan | 16 November  

Jonathan Porritt had an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday titled ‘Unilever's trailblazing environmental plan’. In it he discussed how Unilever has spent two years auditing the environmental impact of its products and has committed to no increase in this impact despite planning to double its revenue by 2020.

While he’s concerned that Unilever’s doubling of revenue will partly come from promoting aspirational consumer products rather than basic foodstuffs, he argues: ‘who is to say that the average citizen in India has less of a right to enjoy a Magnum ice cream than the average UK citizen?’

Although I completely agree with the sentiment I think he is missing the point slightly. Yes, we all should have the right to eat ice cream if we choose but for many people in the developing world, including India, the choice isn’t about whether they have a dark chocolate or a white chocolate Magnum - it’s much more fundamental than that.

In India nearly half the population has no access to electricity. This means they cannot refrigerate medicines, do homework after dark or access basic health and sanitation facilities, let alone keep a Magnum cool.

The effects of a changing climate are threatening the lives and livelihoods of people around the world and the rich countries (including big multinationals based here) must cut their global emissions, not maintain current levels.

If Unilever and other large companies are serious about supporting the developing world and reducing their impact on the environment then I encourage them to join us in calling on Caroline Spelman MP to introduce mandatory carbon reporting so we can measure their impacts to an agreed standard.

What you can do

There is still time to add your voice to our call for carbon reporting by companies to be mandatory. Send Caroline Spelman an email here.

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 About the author

Laura Trevelyan

Laura Trevelyan is our climate justice campaign manager