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  6. Decarbonization – What is it?

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Decarbonization – What is it?

Decarbonization is important to halt climate change. But what exactly is behind it? And what is Volkswagen doing about it?

Coal and oil are the strongest drivers of increased CO₂ emissions

Decarbonization is the keyword in Volkswagen's sustainability strategy. In order to limit rising global temperatures and reduce man-made CO2 emissions as quickly as possible, the Group is expressly committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, which provides for a climate-neutral society by 2050. And it is already drawing the necessary conclusions. At the annual press conference on 12 March 2019, the goal of CO2-neutral mobility plays a central role. “The CO2 problem is the greatest global challenge,” said Michael Jost, Chief Strategist of the Volkswagen brand, recently.

The transport sector accounts for around 14 per cent of global CO₂ emissions

But what exactly does decarbonization mean in this context? And what objectives and measures are associated with it? The term decarbonization literally means the reduction of carbon. Precisely meant is the conversion to an economic system that sustainably reduces and compensates the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO₂). The long-term goal is to create a CO₂-free global economy. In this context, car manufacturers such as Volkswagen must make their contribution alongside other economic sectors. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the transport sector accounts for around 14 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – and this figure is rising. Automobile manufacturers are therefore called upon to do their bit.

This is one of the reasons why Volkswagen relies on e-mobility in its drive technologies. From today's perspective, e-mobility is the best and most efficient way of achieving climate-neutral, clean mobility, but it requires that the energy revolution be consistently driven forward, and sufficient amounts of renewable energy be available. Over the next few years, the company will launch the automotive industry's largest e-offensive. The models of the ID. family are specially designed for electromobility and optimally exploit the possibilities of this technology. They offer long ranges, plenty of space, dynamic driving behavior and a whole new level of digital networking. The first model to start production at the Zwickau plant at the end of 2019 is the compact ID., which will be launched at the beginning of 2020. The SUV ID. CROZZ will follow shortly afterwards, followed by the ID. BUZZ and the ID. VIZZION sedan. In the future, Volkswagen will offer attractive electric cars across all segments – from the compact sector to a large lifestyle Bulli. The brand aims to sell at least one million electric cars worldwide per year, by 2025.

CO₂ emissions are consistently avoided right from the start

This is how Volkswagen ensures that the new ID., which will be launched on the market in 2020, can be produced and driven in a climate-neutral manner from the outset

What is crucial is that Volkswagen not only builds electric cars, but also monitors the complete life cycle from raw materials to recycling. For the electric car is only as clean and green as the electricity used to build and charge it. Cell production, in particular, is still very energy-intensive, and charging cars with coal-derived power is a burden to the overall environmental equilibrium. In order to tailor electric cars sustainably towards climate protection, it is precisely these areas that have to be addressed. That’s exactly what Volkswagen is doing: With the new ID., already set for production this year, the brand will be putting a climate-neutral car onto the road. CO2 emissions will be avoided or reduced from the beginning, and currently unavoidable emissions will be offset by investments in climate protection projects.

In summary: Volkswagen is taking action in order to reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of a climate-neutral society by 2050. With the ID., the brand is demonstrating that clean, climate-neutral mobility is possible. At the same time, there is also a great economic opportunity in all this. “The strategic goal of becoming the leading worldwide provider of e-mobility can make the focus on consistent decarbonization a strong competitive edge,” says Georg Kell, spokesman for Volkswagen’s independent sustainability advisory board. “In any case, it offers the best way for setting a common course for a secure and economically successful future on a planet worth living on.”

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