In view of the dramatic progression with respect to global warming, carbon neutrality will be the order of the day over the coming years and decades. The global framework for this is the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the rise in global temperatures well below 2°C, and ideally below 1.5°C. The defined lever is global carbon neutrality by the second half of the century at the latest. Many governments have translated this into a target of carbon neutrality by 2050. Here, as always, anyone wanting to observe and achieve carbon neutrality in a sustainable manner and taking a 360-degree approach will also need to consider, for example, how a product is made, and how it is transported, used, and finally recycled.
A look at the figures shows how important rapid successes are when it comes to reducing levels of carbon dioxide: Of the 50 billion tons or so of carbon dioxide that are released into the atmosphere globally each year, eight to ten billion tons are attributable to transport alone – from cars and trucks to ships and airplanes. Global player Continental produced “only” 0.99 million tons of carbon dioxide directly itself in 2020. But when you consider the entire value chain – so including pre-production, transport routes to the global production sites, or the emissions that arise when products are used – the figure rises to around 108 million tons of carbon dioxide for which Continental is directly or indirectly responsible. This corresponds to at least 0.2 to 0.3 percent of global emissions.
Carbon neutrality therefore has an entirely different scope beyond “just” CO2-neutral factories and production plants.
Continental’s sustainability program focuses the company on the best benefit for the climate and on a clear paradigm shift at the right point in time. The company has therefore adopted a strategy that will have an impact over both the short and long term: In the short and medium term, Continental is working intensively on further reducing its own CO2 footprint – for example by purchasing green electricity for all plants worldwide since 2020.Continental’s entire procurement of electricity thus became CO2 neutral all at the same time. The calculated savings in CO2 emissions within the limits of the plants (Scope 1+2) led to a reduction in its own carbon dioxide emissions of almost 70 percent in total in 2020. As a next step, Continental will be making direct business for emission-free vehicles completely carbon-neutral from 2022, including the procured raw materials and other upstream chain (see also the section on “Emission-free mobility and industry”). By 2040, all of the company’s production processes are to be made carbon-neutral. Continental’s aim is to continue reducing emissions of climate-damaging carbon dioxide so that as little as possible needs to be offset.
In the long term, complete carbon neutrality across the entire value chain is to be achieved in close collaboration with suppliers and customers – and by 2050 at the latest. “Continental is thus consistently meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement of 2015,” explained Dr. Reinhart. The “Science Based Targets initiative” (SBTi) confirmed this at the end of 2020. Our own production is therefore on track for the target of 1.5°C; for our value chain, we are significantly below 2°C.”
That Continental is on the right path is further evidenced by the endorsement of the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project): For the second time in a row, as a Supplier Engagement Leader with an “A” rating, Continental was recognized as a global leader for measures and strategies to reduce emissions in the supply chain. The company can thus count itself among the seven percent of companies assessed that achieved the coveted “Leadership Status” in 2020.