Two degrees. Especially in the summer heat, doesn’t sound like much initially. But the effects of global warming by more than two degrees would be dramatic. The Paris Climate Protection Agreement, to which Volkswagen AG has committed itself, aims to achieve the two-degree target: The earth should not increase its temperature by more than a maximum of two degrees. Volkswagen AG has taken measures to realize this responsibility, because climate change and a global reduction in CO2 emissions concerns us all. Volkswagen Group therefore wants to become a CO2 neutral company by 2050.
“goTOzero”: The green zero
To this end, Volkswagen Group is implementing various sustainability measures, bundled under the new “goTOzero” environmental mission statement. Oliver Blume, responsible for environmental protection on the Group Executive Board, says: “With the new environmental mission statement, the Group is giving itself and its stakeholders a clear orientation. Our efforts to improve environmental protection cover the entire product cycle, from development to manufacture, operation and subsequent recycling of our vehicles. We also involve our suppliers. Only together, can we achieve our goals.”
Volkswagen AG – a sustainability-oriented company
With “goTOzero”, the Volkswagen Group is taking the next important step in its Group strategy “TOGETHER – Strategy 2025+” towards becoming a comprehensively sustainable-oriented company. The Group’s Environmental Policy consists of four areas: climate change, resources, air quality and environmental compliance. It gives the numerous environmental programs at Group and Brand level a strategic orientation. These include, for example, the following objectives: By 2025, the company aims to reduce the CO2 footprint of its vehicle fleet over its entire life cycle by 30 percent compared with 2015. Volkswagen AG intends to invest around 30 billion euros in electric mobility by 2023 and to launch more than 70 new electric models on the market by 2028. In addition, the Group is committed to setting up a charging infrastructure and is already offering renewable electricity for customers and consumers through its Elli Volkswagen company.
Equinor is an international energy company based in Norway. In May 2018 the company changed its name from Statoil to Equinor. It is Europe’s second largest gas supplier and the largest operator of offshore gas and oil production facilities. Equinor also invests in solar energy and offshore wind farms. Equinor is currently present in over 30 countries with around 20,000 employees and produces two million barrels of oil a day. The company was founded in 1972 as a state-owned company but is now listed on the New York and Oslo stock exchanges. The Norwegian state holds 67 percent of the shares. Equinor is headquartered in Stavanger.
Integrating mobility and energy
The mobility and energy sectors in particular will become even more integrated in the future as a result of Volkswagen AG’s E-Offensive and further developments in this area. Companies from this sector, such as the large energy company Equinor – formerly Statoil – from Norway, are also committed to the Paris Climate Agreement.
Bjørn Otto Sverdrup is Senior Vice President for Corporate Sustainability at Equinor: “We are very impressed with what the Volkswagen Group is doing in the area of sustainability. Equinor is also actively committed to reducing CO2 emissions. “We are part of a problem and want to be part of the solution,” says Sverdrup, adding: “Sustainability has become very important. Investors appreciate our work; they look at our environmental performance and our risk management.”
Equinor wants to move from a pure oil and gas company to a more diversified energy company. The Group plans to minimize CO2 emissions from its oil and gas business, grow in renewable energy, and focus even more on climate and environmental aspects. A major goal: In 2018, Equinor created 14.5 million tons of CO2 emissions in its operations, by 2030 those CO2 emissions are to be reduced by 3 million tons. By way of comparison, the Volkswagen Group caused around 9 million tons of CO2 emissions in its operations in 2017, compared with only 8.2 million tons last year.
“Change is always difficult, it’s a lot of work for a lot of people,” says Sverdrup and continues: “But when we become a better company, we’re helping to create a future for all of us. The climate issue is something very important, and we as an energy company are the focus here. There are thousands of small steps, a process that will probably never end. But as a company, you have to be open and genuine – and constantly improve.” By 2020, 25 percent of Equinor’s Research Fund will be invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“It’s firstly about reducing our own emissions, secondly about growing sustainably and thirdly about ensuring that climate is included in all our decisions,” says Sverdrup, explaining Equinor’s sustainability approach. Since 2011, the company has reduced emissions from its logistics activities by a total of 600,000 tons of CO2. This corresponds to the annual emissions of all the cars in Oslo. Equinor’s fleet includes helicopters and ships used for supply, emergency assistance, movement of drilling equipment and storage. Equinor’s logistics business comprises of 40-50 ships and 19 helicopters in daily operation as well as some 150,000 truck journeys per year. Equinor aims to halve its emissions in the NCS supply chain by 2030 compared to 2011.
Investing in the rainforests and CCS
In 2018, Equinor announced that it was ready to invest in rainforest conservation once the legal framework was right and a functioning CO2 market existed. Equinor expects this to be the case this year. Protecting and restoring forests and land is an effective global climate measure. The rainforest in particular stores enormous amounts of CO2. An artificial process that also stores CO2 is called CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage). Equinor has already captured and stored more than 23 million tons of CO2. The company is now trying to develop new business models to make CCS economically viable. Sverdrup says: “If I had a tip for other companies to reduce their emissions, it would be: Use the know-how in your company, especially that of your engineers. Give them a problem, a clear goal and let them find a solution – that’s what they’re good at!”