We are living in an increasingly complex world. Nobody can predict the future, and nobody can say for sure how exactly our planet will be impacted by global warming, demographic change, and the onward march of technology. We are living in a world in which environmental, economic, and social questions are all interconnected and can only be answered if we work together. ElringKlinger is tackling this complexity by adopting a clear, Group-wide focus on sustainability on which significant further progress was made in 2020 in environmental matters. Andreas Weiß, Vice President Quality and Environmental, was there right from the start when the target of carbon neutrality was set and the corresponding measures were derived from it. His team will play a key role in driving forward the implementation of the individual project pillars within the Group and will ensure that they are actively embraced at the plants across the world.
CO2 emissions, CO2 reduction, and carbon neutrality are now commonly used terms that are playing a major role in shaping our century. However, many people still fail to appreciate just what they actually mean for us all. The adjective “carbon-neutral” (also “climate-neutral”) ultimately implies that human activity (e.g., a car journey, a flight, etc.) or the use of fossil fuels is not allowed to increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Only this is genuinely climate-neutral. To achieve this, however, we all need to change our habits. “Business as usual” is now a thing of the past. With the target we set in 2020 – making the ElringKlinger Group carbon-neutral in net terms by 2030 – we want to grasp the nettle and change things together with all our employees, for the sake of our environment and the protection of our planet.
We no longer want to sit back and watch as more and more natural disasters devastate habitats and homes – we want to take action. We have therefore set ourselves an ambitious timetable for delivering the project. In the first step, we will make our production at all ElringKlinger’s German sites climate-neutral as early as 2021 and 2022, meaning that we will drastically reduce all our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. We intend to offset any completely unavoidable emissions by investing in environmental protection projects. We are planning to become climate-neutral at all our European sites by 2025, and it is hoped that all our sites worldwide will have no carbon footprint whatsoever by 2030. After that, we are also planning to reduce our Scope 3 emissions, i.e., all those produced along our entire value chain.
To structure the many various measures that we will be taking within the Group, we have defined four different fields of activity to pursue at all sites: increasing energy efficiency in all buildings and facilities; using more renewable energy; switching to green electricity; and offsetting any completely unavoidable CO2 emissions by investing in CO2-reducing projects outside the company.
In the first field, we want to make our existing facilities and buildings more energy-efficient, and our production sites have thus been tasked with reducing their CO2 emission by at least 2.5% a year relative to the baseline year of 2019. This includes optimizing existing processes and consistently avoiding fossil fuels. In the second field, we are looking into installing systems to generate our own renewable energy wherever this is technically feasible and makes economic sense. In the third, we will be switching all our electricity supply contracts over to electricity generated from environmentally friendly energy sources. In the fourth and final field of activity, we will offset all unavoidable CO2 emissions by investing in projects designed to protect the climate. However, we are expressly committed to keeping these compensatory payments as low as possible across the Group, because we want to achieve our objectives together with all our employees and become climate-neutral through our own efforts.
Back in 2020, we launched a pilot project to switch our main site in Dettingen/Erms to green electricity in order to not lose any time and to gain valuable experience that we could apply to our Group-wide switchover. We also made our first compensatory payments to a forestry conservation project in Brazil in order to offset unavoidable CO2 emissions.
What makes this large-scale project unique is the fact that literally every employee in the Group is a part of it. After all, it is only if we all “pull together” and motivate one another to make things better in the interests of our environment that we will be able to help protect our environment and achieve climate-neutrality. We therefore urgently need to let go of our old habits and scrutinize even the tiniest work step that we follow to see if its emissions can be reduced. For this reason, we are also planning a number of communication campaigns in the coming months that will make our employees even more environmentally aware.
This was also what spawned the idea of putting around 1% of planned investments toward energy-saving measures every year, because we want to encourage staff to identify where there is potential for optimization. Going forward, all sites will be required to suggest at least one project a year to compete for the chance of being chosen to receive funding. The focus will then be on those projects that promise the greatest reduction in CO2 per euro spent as well as on those measures that will achieve significant energy savings.
Every change is bringing us a little bit further toward our goal of climate-neutrality. We have now taken the first few steps, and I firmly believe that, by working together, we will be able to make many more things better for the sake of our environment.