Strategy & Management

Expert Statement: Uwe Bergmann, Henkel

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?


Uwe Bergmann: The next five years will be decisive, whether we as a society will manage the transition to a carbon-neutral lifestyle, reducing the pressure on our resources and reach the well below 2-degree target of the Paris Agreement. We at Henkel want to lead the change and therefore committed to an ambitious long-term vision: we aim to become a climate-positive company by 2040. This means decarbonizing our own operations and supplying surplus carbon-free energy to third parties.
At our production sites, we have identified both the potential to further increase energy efficiency and to convert all remaining fossil fuels to climate-neutral alternatives. Our aim is to reduce our production-related carbon footprint by 65% by 2025.
In addition to our activities at our own sites, we want to leverage our influence on areas of our value chain that are particularly relevant to CO2 emissions. Responsible sourcing is one approach that we realize by cooperating with our suppliers. The industry-wide responsible sourcing initiative Together for Sustainability, TFS, co-founded by Henkel in 2011, is only one example.
Finally, the most important approach for Henkel’s CO2 reductions lies in the use phase of our products, accounting for around two thirds of our carbon footprint. Therefore, we have developed a CO2-saving portfolio to help our customers and consum­ers save 100 million tons of CO2 in a ten-year-period until 2025 by using our products and solutions.
We are convinced that our strategy to create more value, while reducing our environmental footprint, makes an important contribution to climate protection and is the way to lead our company to future success.