Strategy & Management

Expert Statement: Stefan Haver, Evonik

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?

Stefan Haver: Evonik is committed to acting in line with the Paris Agreement, aiming for climate neutrality by 2050. In fact, this is eas­ier said than done. Which makes it all the more important that we focus not only on the ambition it­self, but also keep a close watch on the stepping­stones that will take us there. We can do so by addressing the opportunities underlying sustainability as a guiding economic principle and driver for innovation, resulting in questions like: How do we highlight our contribution as an enabler of CO2 reductions in many other sectors? Or: How do we translate sustainable development into proper earnings? We can also take a more risk-based approach, asking: How do we account for the impact of climate change and resource scarcity on our business? At least: How do we make our portfolio more robust?
Our sustainability strategy is derived from the above questions, simultaneously aiming at four dimensions: exploring opportunities as well as risk mitigation, the footprint of our production as well as the handprint of our products. Consequently, it is deeply embedded in our company‘s purpose itself: Leading beyond chemistry to improve life today and tomorrow.
For the footprint-related part we have announced our target of reducing absolute emissions by half by 2025, compared with the baseline of 2008. For the coming years this is a reduction path of 3% a year, underpinning our commitment to the Paris Agreement. This is supplemented by internal CO2 pricing, calculated using the baseline of €50 per ton CO2.
On the handprint side of things, we are fostering sales from our most advanced products, that come with a proven sustainability benefit above market level. These A-ranked products form what we call our “next generation solutions”. Having analyzed all of our businesses we can profoundly say, that Evonik generates about 90% of its sales with products or solutions that are on or above the market reference point in terms of their sustain­ability performance. More than 30% of our products and solutions even meet the highest standards of our next-generation-solutions category.
So, to Evonik the challenge of industry transformation comes with a strong message: It is not just about going green. It is all about business itself.