Sustainability Report 2017

The Sustainability Report 2017, published March 2018, relates on several occasions to the environmental objectives of Volkswagen. But they aren’t given in an explicit manner.

About the precise content of the environmental objectives one may speculate after reading the following paragraphs:

“As one of the world’s leading providers of sustainable mobility, we also want to become an Environ­mental Role Model. We are working toward this long­term goal by taking responsibility for the environment – day in, day out. With this in mind, we have defined the following targets:

  • To continuously improve our carbon footprint
  • To continuously reduce our pollutant emissions
  • To continuously reduce our resource consumption”

Strange targets these are, without any numbers to quantify the desired effects. And no indication wether these „targets“ shall apply to the production, or to the products or to both of them.

“Environmental protection is teamwork. This is why we involve em­ployees across the whole Group in our efforts to jointly achieve the Group’s environmental goals. One of the building blocks we use for this purpose is the ‚Works Agreement on Environmental Protection‘, which has been in place at Volkswagen AG factories (including the Technical Development department in Wolfsburg) since 1995 and was most recently updated in 2013.”

What shall we think about this „Works Agreement on Environmental Protection“? How shall we find it, as Volkswagen does not propose any Link? Does Volkswagen consider the „Works Agreement on Environmental Protection“ a trade Secret? So the environmental objectives may constitute a Secret as well?

“Improving each vehicle’s environmental performance over its full life cycle is one of the environmental objectives of the Technical Develop­ment function of our Volkswagen Passenger Cars and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands. To meet this goal, we prepare detailed life cycle assessments (LCAs) for new vehicles, powertrains, compo­ nents and materials. One of the outcomes of these activities was the creation of our in­house software package LEAD (Life Cycle Environ­ mental Assessment Database). The system supports the Group­wide sharing of harmonized data that guarantees the use of standardized routines for calculating environmental footprints.”

Again, no numbers.

“The ‚Ecologically Exemplary Production‘ initiative is firmly anchored in our production strategy, which is derived from our Group strategy. As part of this initiative, we will be working to achieve four key objec­ tives by 2025:

  • Setting and achieving ambitious environmental targets for production
  • Developing a long­term vision for environmental targets in production and rolling it out across the Group
  • Improving employees’ environmental awareness and incorporating relevant environmental aspects into Group processes
  • Achieving top positions in prestigious environmental rankings

With this in mind, we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of reducing levels of the ve key environmental indicators per vehicle manufactured – energy and water consumption, waste for disposal, CO2 and VOC emissions – by 45% by 2025 (compared with the 2010 baseline). This target applies to all the Group’s production sites and builds on the eco­friendly production process requirements de ned in our Group Environmental Principles.”

45% seems to be a very impressive number! But let‘s break this down into two steps. There has already been the reduction by 25% by 2018 (compared with the 2010 baseline). Which is almost achieved.

This taken into account, the New Step does not seem very ambitious. In approximation, it comes down to the reduction by 20% by 2025 (compared with the 2018 baseline)

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