Strategy & Management

Expert Statement: Bernhard Kott, Symrise

CO2-Neutral Chemical Industry - The Challenge of an Industry Transformation

10.03.2021 - The European Chemical Industry has set out on an ambitious path to become carbon neutral.

Germany, as one of the major chemical manufacturing nations, has committed to achieve this goal by 2050. But companies need to translate this industry vision into their specific context.
System changes of the scale of CO2 neutrality for a whole industry sector require a new mindset. Major transformations command long lead times and require consistent and persistent follow-through. It is all but clear whether enough value is created to justify the huge investments and how new value generated is distributed among critical players and investors.

CHEManager asked executives and industry experts to share their opinions on this industry transformation, which is a multi-stakeholder challenge and comprises economical, technical, societal and political aspects. We proposed to discuss the following aspects:

  • What is your strategy / timeline to become carbon neutral and what are the key challenges on the path to achieve this goal?
  • What political / regulatory mea­sures are needed to encourage companies to invest in carbon neu­tral technologies?
  • What economical / societal benefits do you expect or hope for by decarbonizing your business?
  • How do you plan to involve external stakeholders critical for achieving CO2 neutrality?


Bernhard Kott: I am convinced that sustainable corporate management pays off — not least in economic success. We contribute to the UN Sustainable Devel­opment Goals (SDGs) and global efforts to stop global warming. Our shareholders and invest­ors are paying greater attention to this commitment. If we act sustainably today, we can avoid higher costs later, for example due to regulatory requirements, reputation losses or — last but not least — our dependence on natural raw materials. Thus, analysts and rating agencies such as MSCI, Sustainalytics, ISS ESG, CDP, EcoVadis and SEDEX increasingly ask us about our ESG performance. Also, an ambitious sustainability management reinforces long-term partnerships with our suppliers and local communities — and is demanded by our employees. Where necessary, Symrise compensates emissions through climate certificates, preferably by funding projects where we operate. The impact can be better monitored and employees and the population in the region benefit directly from the measures.