A commitment to climate protection has been an integral part of the actions and activities of Volkswagen Financial Services for many years. In particular, the company's work in Germany and internationally with the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) has set the benchmark for the protection and ecological restoration of peatlands. To give further practical expression to their conviction, Volkswagen Financial Services have now joined the "Development and Climate Alliance" initiative.
The initiative was launched in 2018 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Its aim is to create a platform for non-governmental commitment to climate protection and it therefore addresses the private sector in particular. In addition to government-led measures to meet the Paris climate goals, further voluntary efforts and involvement on the part of the business community are also needed in order to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. This engagement should also take place where people are suffering most from the climate crisis, namely in developing countries. With this in mind, the "Development and Climate Alliance" seeks to combine climate protection and sustainable development assistance beneficially and effectively in its work.
The Alliance was converted into a foundation in 2020 to give it a long-term institutional form. Its supporters avoid and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Where these cannot be avoided, the Alliance partners offset their emissions in appropriate high-quality projects. The participation of the partners is voluntary and their contributions exceed existing statutory CO2 reduction obligations. In this way, those working with the Alliance are making their own significant contributions towards achieving climate neutrality, and even climate positivity, by 2050.
Volkswagen Financial Services have been actively involved in climate protection together with NABU since 2008. The focus is on high-quality peatland protection projects financed via the national and international Peatland Conservation Fund. Several million euros have already flowed into these projects, laying the foundation for the successful renaturation of these valuable ecosystems.
Peatlands are not only vital habitats for rare animals and plants and therefore play an important part in conserving biodiversity. Since intact peatlands are one of the world's most important carbon reservoirs and the most effective natural carbon sinks of all terrestrial habitats, they also have a key function in global climate protection. As a result of drainage and agricultural exploitation, however, they can no longer fulfill this function efficiently. Peatlands that are dried out emit large quantities of greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, which further heat up the atmosphere. With emissions amounting to around 50 million metric tons each year, the peatland in Germany is currently the country's second-largest single source after the energy-related emissions.
For their future participation, Volkswagen Financial Services are looking for new international peatland protection projects that can be implemented in a stable political environment. The "Development and Climate Alliance" opens up new perspectives and opportunities in this regard.