Environmental management in the Group

Stakeholders’ expectations of our Company are constantly rising, particularly with regard to global megatrends such as climate change, demand for resources, demographic changes and increasing urbanization. We are tackling this challenge and taking responsibility.

Volkswagen has set itself the goal of being the leading automotive company in environmental terms as well. To help us achieve this goal, we have bundled our environmental protection activities in the Group environmental strategy.

Our commitment centers on four major subgoals:

  • Number one for resource conservation across the lifecycle
    We view our products’ environmental footprint holistically across their entire lifecycle. Our central concern here is to protect the environment and in particular to conserve finite resources. The steps we have taken focus on efficient product and process design, the use of innovative environmental technologies and sustainable energy supplies.
  • A leading manufacturer of environmentally friendly products
    Our products combine state-of-the-art technology, comfort and safety, low fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. The long-term goal is CO2-free mobility.
  • Environmental awareness anchored throughout the Company
    The Volkswagen Group’s employees are the driving force behind its environmental strategy. They are well informed, well qualified and operate in an ecologically responsible manner. Our great strength is that, in exchanging best practice, we pool our employees’ knowledge across brands and regions and leverage this across the entire Group.
  • Number one for intelligent mobility
    We understand intelligent mobility to mean the challenge of offering mobility and comfort and at the same time protecting the environment and reducing traffic waste. This requires the efficient interplay of people, infrastructure, technologies and means of transport.

The Group environmental strategy is based on a holistic approach that is geared to the value chain and thus involves all divisions. We have set ambitious, measurable targets in these areas and are pursuing them systematically. This includes reducing CO2 emissions from our European new car fleet and designing each new model generation to be more efficient than its predecessor. In production, we want to reduce the levels of the five key environmental indicators of energy and water consumption, waste for disposal and CO2 and VOCs emissions by 25% for each vehicle produced by 2018, in comparison with 2010.

We can only reach our ambitious goals if we firmly entrench environmentally relevant issues in our organizational and decision-making processes. The basis for this is our environmental management system, which has been in place for many years. The Group’s environmental policy is a key component of this. It is based on the Group’s environmental principles for our products and production that are in force throughout the Company. The Technical Development department’s environmental goals are also anchored in the environmental management system. We make sure that these processes are regularly confirmed by submitting them to certification procedures and external audits, including in the reporting period. Our energy management system, which has been introduced successively into all locations since 2010, has had ISO 50001 certification since 2012. We have taken part in a growing number of environmental certification schemes since then, with the result that our locations worldwide as well as the Technical Development department have certification under ISO 14001, and also, since 2009, under ISO/TR 14062.

The Group-wide entrenchment of environmental protection should also be reflected in our employees’ environmental thinking and actions. This, however, assumes that they are appropriately informed and trained. For this reason, we have appointed environmental management officers around the world, who are working on building a broad basis for environmental protection within the Group. In order to pool and make use of the expertise and know-how of all our brands’ and regions’ employees, cross-brand and cross-departmental steering committees and work groups take place regularly at both management and expert level.

Volkswagen welcomes the outcome of the UN’s COP 21 Climate Change Conference that was held in the reporting period. The negotiators agreed an ambitious target of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. In advance of the conference, Scania and Audi had contributed their ideas on low carbon freight and low carbon fuel to the WBCSD’s Low Carbon Technology Partnership Initiative. The initiatives develop measures and projects to make the planned climate target a reality.