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Global manufactures are “walking the talk” on sustainability, with low-carbon operations powering their sustainable product offerings

3 December 2021, 15:00 GMT 8 min read

Tessa Lee, Senior Corporate Engagement Manager

The IEA finds that global industry and manufacturing account for almost 20% of both energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. As the global economy expands, the sector’s environmental impact continues to grow.  

Purveyors of key technologies and components for manufacturing and industrial operations, ABB, Danfoss, Schneider Electric, and Siemens AG all offer sustainable and energy saving solutions to their customers. And they are “walking the talk” – making sure that their own operations are low-carbon as well. As members of all three of the Climate Group’s corporate 100s campaigns (RE100, EV100, and EP100), these four companies have publicly committed to doing their part for the energy transition by investing in energy efficiency, switching to renewable electricity, and adopting electric vehicles.  

Danfoss, headquartered in Denmark and employing almost 40,000 people and serving customers in more than 100 countries, was the first of these four companies to join all three initiatives, building on their 2016 commitment to EP100 by joining RE100 and EV100 in 2019. Danfoss engineers advanced technologies and solutions that improve energy efficiency and lower the effects of global warming, and they have committed overall to decarbonizing their own operations by 2030. 

Schneider Electric, a global company with hubs in Paris, Boston and Hong-Kong and global expertise in energy management and automation, joined RE100 and EP100 in 2017 and followed with a commitment to EV100 in 2020. Also in 2020 Siemens joined EV100, followed by RE100 and EP100 in 2021. A German conglomerate, Siemens produces technology for industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare. Finally ABB, a Swiss-Swedish corporation who offers technology for electrification, robotics, automation, and motion used by diverse global industries joined all three Climate Group campaigns in 2021 as part of their pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

While committing to all three of these demand-side campaigns may not be relevant or appropriate for every company’s specific operations, the Climate Group celebrates the leadership of companies like these who have embraced a holistic view of the energy transition and are “triple-joiners”[i] of RE100, EV100, and EP100. To date, only 18 companies globally are members of all three 100s commitments.

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"Sustainability is in our very DNA. It's not an option. It's a business imperative. Based on our successful track record, we're now setting ourselves even more ambitious targets. We'll accelerate our efforts and raise the bar to create considerably more value for all our stakeholders. Sustainable business growth goes hand in hand with the value we create for people and our planet."

Judith Wiese, Chief People & Sustainability Officer, Managing Board member, Siemens AG

This is the third in a series of four blog posts profiling the successes and learnings of these triple-joiners, by exploring the importance of pursuing internal sustainability goals closely alongside offering energy and emission reductions to one’s customers. The first blog looked at the motivations for designing holistic climate strategies, while the second highlighted companies from the buildings and construction sector. The upcoming fourth post will explore the challenges that all of these diverse leading companies are facing as they set public targets and report transparently on their progress, as well as key learnings from their efforts. 

Overall, more than 500 major global companies are actively reducing their emissions according to at least one of the three Climate Group commitments. Over 340 members of RE100 have pledged to power 100% of their operations with renewable electricity, representing over 350 TWhrs of annual electricity consumption. The EP100 campaign is a network of over 125 companies committed to improving their energy productivity. And in the EV100 campaign over 110 corporates have committed to transitioning more than 5 million vehicles and installing charging stations at more than 7,000 properties around the world. 

Along with these three campaigns, the Climate Group is looking more closely at decarbonization for heavy industry and the built environment with the recently launched SteelZero and an upcoming new initiative that will drive the demand signal for net zero concrete, which are likewise demand-side commitments to procuring zero-carbon steel and concrete by 2050, with interim benchmarks and pledges along the way. 

Raising the Bar, Amplifying Impact 

These four manufacturing companies all have science and precision engineering at the heart of their businesses. It is therefore no surprise that they are also acutely attuned to the exigencies of climate science and the global undertaking required to redesign our infrastructure and our economy to meet the challenge. 

They also all share a commitment to continually surpassing their own targets, accelerating their ambitions, and collaborating to get there. For example, Danfoss is set to achieve their EP100 pledge to double their energy productivity against a 2007 baseline several years ahead of their target year. 

Schneider Electric was awarded the RE100 Clean Energy Trailblazer Award in 2020, for, among other achievements, going from 2% to 80% renewable penetration in just three years. They reported to the Climate Group that networks and target pledges like RE100, EP100, and EV100 are key to increasing the confidence of companies to act, by showing a common sense of purpose and alignment between like-minded companies, and accelerating overall climate action. 

"The increased momentum on sustainability is great but even greater action is required if we aim to keep global warming within the levels advised of 1.5 degrees. We are determined to accelerate our efforts by delivering on short term impacts and extend our expertise by supporting partners and customers as part of our commitment to act for a climate-positive world."

Oliver Blum, Chief Strategy and Sustainabiliy Officer, Schneider Electric

In speaking with the Climate Group about their sustainability journeys, all four companies highlighted the degree to which pursuing their own internal climate commitments has helped them improve the products and services they offer their customers. 

Given their diverse product lines servicing multiple global industries, it isn’t possible to catalogue all of the sustainability solutions offered by these four companies. But from key components of electric vehicles to circular products and lifecycle services, from highly efficient HVAC and thermal systems to advanced energy management software, it’s safe to say they run the gamut of emission reduction technologies. 

What’s more, these four companies all expressed that the work they do to accelerate their customers’ decarbonization, efficiency, and clean energy progress ultimately surpasses in impact the gains they’re making in their own operations. 

From 2018 to 2020, Schneider Electric’s product offerings enabled their customers to save and avoid 263 million tonnes CO₂e. In 2020 alone, Siemens customers avoided an estimated 150 million tonnes of CO₂ thanks to their product portfolio of software, hardware, and services. They are also looking upstream, pursuing circularity and emission reductions along their supply chain. Finally, in their 2030 sustainability strategy, ABB are committed to helping their customers reduce emissions by a similar order of magnitude year after year, as well as engaging with their suppliers to reduce emissions across their supply chain. ABB also limits environmental impact by driving circularity in its own operations at every stage of the product lifecycle and enabling its customers to become more circular.

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Innovative Projects  

The four companies profiled in this article each shared examples of just some of the innovative programs and products they’ve launched as they pursue their targets under RE100, EP100, and EV100, and help their customers do the same. 

  • ABB are advancing quickly towards their 2030 sustainability goals. By using their own energy-management technologies as well as onsite renewable energy generation, ABB has decarbonized several of their sites around the world, including factories in China, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, in an example of innovative internal change management, ABB have transferred responsibility for climate action away from a single central sustainability function to the company’s 20 divisions, each of which is now fully accountable for its own GHG performance. Not only is this increasing expertise and ownership of climate action across ABB’s business areas, it has also allowed for more granular and bespoke strategic planning and solution design. 
  • Danfoss is pursuing an overall approach to decarbonization that puts energy efficiency first, and then invests in sufficient renewable electricity generation capacity while also electrifying other energy loads, namely thermal and transportation. One area of focus for Danfoss is greening data centers – the backbone of the internet. In fact around 10% of global electricity today is used by the IT sector, most of it for temperature management. Danfoss has tackled this issue from multiple angles, including with highly efficient cooling technologies designed to operate at high temperatures themselves, reducing the overall cooling need. They pair this with energy efficient heat removal options which actually allow for the recovery and utilization of waste heat as energy itself. 
  • Schneider Electric, who was recognized by Corporate Knights in 2021 as the most sustainable company in the world, has a Sustainable Business Division, which exists with the sole purpose of helping other organizations become more sustainable and prepare for the low-carbon transition. Their enterprise-wide, AI-enabled energy and sustainability data collection software, EcoStruxure Resource Advisor, helps companies centralize their data, measure resource consumption, identify opportunities to improve efficiency and sustainability, and transparently report out on that progress. Along with products like this, they also offer a Climate Change Advisory services, through which they help other companies understand and manage their climate risks and build a roadmap to carbon neutrality/net zero, including along supply chains. 
  • Siemens AG is deeply committed to sustainable yet profitable growth, and are pursing decarbonization through digitization, with products that combine the real and digital worlds. One area of expertise is in the adoption and management of distributed renewable energy systems around the world. Not only do these technologies reduce CO₂, they also cut costs, increase energy access in energy poor communities, and crucially, improve resilience to natural disasters, economic shocks, and other potential disruptions to energy supply. Internally, the company is officially adopting the topic of sustainability as an additional strategic imperative for its investment decisions. 

Overall, a key insight from speaking with these triple-joiners from the industrial and manufacturing sector is the degree to which they are leveraging the RE100, EP100, and EV100 campaigns for the platform they provide to share knowledge and inspire others to act. The increased visibility and transparency required of members allows them to truly lead by example on climate, by benchmarking their ambition against their peers, demonstrating to laggards what’s already possible for successful companies to achieve today, and sending a strong and unified message to global policy makers. 

industry

"Sustainability is good business for our customers, for the planet and people. As a leading business, we prove that it is possible fto deliver anon ambitious climate targets -- both by decarbonizing our own business and by providing the solutions needed to decouple economic growth from energy consumption, reducing the energy needed in the first place." 

Kim Fausing, CEO, Danfoss

The 18 global companies who are members of the Climate Group’s RE100, EP100, and EV100 campaigns are pursuing holistic decarbonization via the mutually reinforcing technologies of renewable electricity, energy productivity, and electric vehicles.  

The first post in this four-part blog series highlighted the leadership of triple-joiners AstraZeneca, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, NatWest Group, and Lloyds Banking GroupThe second spotlighted the work of JSW Cement, Landsec, Mitie, and Wilmott-Dixon as sustainable companies across the buildings and construction sector, and the final post will look across all of these companies at the shared challenges they’re facing and the best practices they’re learning through their participation in the campaigns. 

"As a global technology company, we at ABB believe that technology holds the key to a sustainable future and to tackling climate change. Through our leading technologies, we help industries and cities reduce their CO₂ footprint by switching to cleaner sources of energy, electrifying operations and transport, and saving energy. We are leading by example in our own operations by committing to the Climate Group pledges, which contribute to taking us to carbon neutrality by 2030."

Theodor Swedjemark, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer, Member of the Group Executive Committee, ABB

Science indicates that the transition to renewable electricity and the switch to electric vehicles, both underpinned by significant investments in energy efficiency, must be nearly complete within the coming decade if the world is to avoid to worst impacts of the climate crisis. RE100, EP100, and EV100 all allow leading companies to make ambitious public commitments to climate action and to report transparently on their progress, unlocking wider change in technology, capital flows, and policy frameworks, and accelerating the energy transition.

[i]At publication the 18 companies who are members of RE100, EP100, and EV100 include: ABB, AstraZeneca, Danfoss, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, JSW Cement Limited, Landsec, Lloyds Banking Group, Mitie, NatWest Group, Schneider Electric, Siemens, and Willmott Dixon.