Mar 5, 2020
Our contribution to climate protection
What does climate change mean? What action is being taken now? And what can be done in the future? We’re taking a closer look at climate change – and at how governments, companies and individuals can be part of a solution.
How climate change affects people and the environment
Back in 2015, the Paris Agreement was announced during the World Climate Conference. It committed countries to limiting the global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Additional efforts were also announced that aimed to limit the temperature increase to just 1.5 degrees Celsius. But why?
Since the 1880s, which marked the beginning of industrialization, the Earth’s temperature has risen by about one degree Celsius. This is having an impact on the world, on people and on the environment – which can already be seen in extreme weather phenomena, global migration and changes in ecosystems. Research conducted by NASA, for instance, shows that global temperatures in 2019 were second only to those in 2016. This means there is a clear long-term trend for our planet getting warmer: the past five years have been the warmest in the last 140 years.
At the same time, scientists argue that global temperatures can be expected to rise much more if current trends persist. This will have irreversible and destructive impacts on the climate because the global balance of atmosphere, land and ocean will be affected. Businesses will also be affected due to constraints in the supply chain. For this reason, companies are developing preventive risk management strategies alongside their efforts to avoid CO2 emissions.
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The Greenhouse Gas Effect
Gases like water vapor, ozone, methane and carbon dioxide are naturally found in our atmosphere. These so-called greenhouse gases originate from evaporation or ice melting, for example, and make life on Earth possible by storing solar energy within our planet’s atmosphere. But this also means that our planet gets warmer the more greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are. And on top of natural processes that generate these gases, human activities like burning fossil fuels are adding gases to the atmosphere. This is making our world warmer, causing ice in the North and South Pole to melt, which leads to rising sea levels and disruptions to the delicate balance of our planet’s weather systems.
What can we do about climate change?
Very simply: Every individual and organization – from governments through to companies and civil society organizations – is being asked to contribute to limiting the rise of our planet’s temperature.
The COP25 meeting in December 2019 was the twenty-fifth annual event where government representatives met to discuss climate change, based on the Paris Agreement that was agreed in 2015. In the same year, the United Nations presented the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that create a shared focus on global challenges. The goals emphasize the importance of driving progress toward reducing emissions and protecting the planet, as well as ending poverty and ensuring prosperity. Goal 13 directly addresses climate action.
Henkel’s contribution to climate protection
In an industrialized world that runs on fossil fuels, businesses have a considerable impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
In light of this, Henkel developed the long-term vision of becoming a climate-positive company by 2040. We’re pursuing this vision in our operations, while also driving progress in other relevant areas of our value chain.
Climate-neutral and climate-positive
We want to become climate-neutral by replacing the remaining fossil fuels used in our operations with CO2-free alternatives. Our operations will become climate-positive when surplus carbon-free energy that we don’t need for our own purposes is supplied to third parties.
To better understand what is meant by becoming climate-positive and how we want to drive progress along the value chain, let’s take a closer look at our company’s carbon footprint. Click on the "+" in the infographic below to learn more!
Our efforts to decrease CO2 emissions start by focusing on our own production, which we can influence directly. We’re aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of our operations by 75 percent by 2030. To do so, we want to continually improve our energy efficiency and to source 100 percent of the electricity we use in production from renewable sources by 2030.
Every year, there are several projects and measures at our sites worldwide that contribute to this – ranging from improvements in our production processes through to raising awareness about resource efficiency. And when building new factories, we aim to integrate our ambitions related to efficiency and renewable energy as early as the design phase. One good example is our new production site in Montornès del Vallès. Thanks to a holistic concept that includes the use of renewable energy and smart technologies for equipment and infrastructure, this site was the first production building in Spain to receive the golden DGNB certification from the German Sustainable Building Council.
In addition to our efficiency targets, we’re striving to source 100 percent of the electricity we use in production from renewable sources by 2030. Our interim target for this goal is to achieve 50 percent coverage by 2020. We will supply any surplus carbon-neutral energy that we don’t need for our own production to third parties. In this way, we’ll become climate-positive by avoiding emissions in our own activities and enabling other organizations to benefit from renewable energy too.
The role of the consumer: What can each individual do?
Around two thirds of our company’s CO2 footprint is generated when our products are used. This creates huge potential to reduce emissions because our brands and technologies are used millions of times every day in households and industrial processes worldwide. That’s why we aim to help our customers and consumers save CO2 – for example by washing at lower temperatures or by switching to haircare products that do not need to be rinsed out and so do not require water to be heated up. Small changes in everyday life can make a big difference and can have a positive effect on the climate.