Working towards a better climate: every year on April 22, millions of people around the world celebrate Earth Day to show their support for the environment and raise awareness of the importance of protecting it. However, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the importance of climate change has largely disappeared from the public debate and the minds of many people in recent months. Nevertheless, global warming and the associated consequences for ecosystems and future generations are still the greatest challenge of our time.
In the same spirit, the Volkswagen Group has set itself the ambitious goal of reducing its own carbon footprint. The Group plans to be climate-neutral throughout the world by 2050 at the latest. For their part, Volkswagen Financial Services have been involved in numerous environmental projects for many years now. In addition, the company has undertaken to operate its Braunschweig headquarters carbon-neutrally by the year 2023. As a part of this goal, electricity is already obtained exclusively from renewable energy sources. The company campus has also been made more natural in recent years in order to increase biodiversity. This was complemented by the systematic expansion of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at the company's headquarters in Braunschweig.
"We've long been committed to climate protection and, together with our cooperation partner, NABU (the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union – editor's note), we are championing the protection and renaturation of moors. After all, moors are incredibly vast CO2 reservoirs," says Lars Henner Santelmann, CEO. Worldwide, twice as much carbon is sequestered in peatlands as in all the world's forests – even though they cover only three percent of the land area.
Currently, for example, the Sulinger Moor near Bremen is being restored as a lighthouse project for the electric mobility program "Blue Fleet". Since 2009, Volkswagen Financial Services has invested a total of more than five million euros in the protection and renaturization of peatlands. In Germany alone, more than 700 hectares of dry peatlands have been restored to their original condition. In addition, there are projects in the Baltic States. But not only moors have to be renatured, rivers too have to be restored to a more natural state. In collaboration with NABU, the River Aller in the District of Verden is being returned to its original course through the landscape. Another VW FS project is the transformation of the River Schunter back into its near-natural flow and habitat conditions, which is taking place in the direct vicinity of the VW FS headquarters in Braunschweig.
There is something every single person can do to reduce his or her own personal carbon footprint as much as possible.
Volkswagen Financial Services' international subsidiaries also participate in climate protection campaigns. For example, the colleagues in the Netherlands, operate two wind turbines of their own, while colleagues in Brazil have installed a rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge system. In India, our colleagues and their partner, the Watershed Organization Trust, are providing people in a rural region severely affected by drought with a sustainable water supply, and our colleagues in Taiwan, for instance, regularly take part in the beach clean-up initiative coordinated by the European Chamber of Commerce.
The international day of action has existed since 1970. The aim is to raise awareness of environmental problems, offer practical and tangible solutions, and encourage people to rethink their own consumer behavior. "There is something every single person can do to reduce his or her own personal carbon footprint as much as possible," as Santelmann points out. The list of possible action is long: saving energy and paper in the office, choosing the means of transport for business trips or, in the private sphere, switching electricity providers at home, reducing one's meat consumption and avoiding waste – absolutely everyone can make a contribution to combating climate change in their private and professional environment. "So, what ideas do you have? What else can we at VW FS do to help? Please use this opportunity and pass on any ideas and suggestions you have to us," says the CEO, addressing the workforce directly.