Gütersloh, 06/17/2021

Climate Neutrality 2030 - How Far Along Is Bertelsmann?

Subject: Environment
Country: International
Category: Project

A year ago, Bertelsmann set itself an ambitious goal: climate neutrality by 2030. Since then, the Group’s climate goal has been scientifically verified, its CO2 emission sources comprehensively analyzed, and measures developed in the individual divisions. Among other things, the Group has made good progress in switching to green electricity.

A year ago, Bertelsmann set itself an ambitious goal: climate neutrality by 2030. What has happened since then? In March 2020, the implementation process began with a kick-off meeting with more than 50 participants from the divisions. Bertelsmann Chief Human Resources Officer Immanuel Hermreck explained the top measures - such as the switch to one hundred percent green electricity by 2022.

The ‘Science-Based Targets’ initiative

In adopting the climate protection target, Bertelsmann joined the “Science Based Targets” initiative,  which advocates ambitious and scientifically based climate targets for companies. It reviewed the CO2 accounting principles applied at Bertelsmann and the level of the targeted emissions reduction. The result of the audit confirms that the Group’s target of cutting emissions by 50 percent by 2030 is ambitious and in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. “Climate change is a huge challenge and therefore also one of Bertelsmann’s eight CR priorities,” says Immanuel Hermreck. “The ‘Science Based Targets’ initiative has confirmed us in our commitment to make Bertelsmann a climate-neutral company by 2030.”

Measures to achieve the climate target

One important step on the way to climate neutrality was a comprehensive analysis of all sources of CO2 emissions in the divisions. In the process, the accounting methods were further developed and additional emission sources, such as TV productions outside the company’s own studios, and transport services, were recorded. Based on this data and the Group-wide targets, the individual climate targets of the business units were formulated. The latest carbon footprint, for 2020, amounted to two million tons of CO2. Around one million metric tons of this is attributable to sites, employees, and the company’s own products, which are to become climate-neutral by 2030. The remaining emissions are attributable to additional service-related emissions for Bertelsmann Printing Group and Arvato Supply Chain Solutions customers outside the Group. Since the base year 2018, CO2 emissions at Bertelsmann have been reduced by 18 percent across the Group, mainly due to declines in the gravure printing businesses, the gradual switch to green electricity, and Corona-related effects.

On track for green power

A total of 81 sites worldwide had switched their supply contracts to green electricity by the end of 2020. The share of renewable energies is particularly high at Penguin Random House. The electricity purchased by Bertelsmann’s Corporate Center was already completely switched to green power by 2020. The Bertelsmann Electricity Pool offers certified green electricity rates to all companies in Germany. Many other companies from all divisions have already arranged to switch in 2021. To provide support and assistance in the sourcing of green power, an international guideline has been drawn up. Bertelsmann has its own e-mobility expert to help Group companies in Germany find suitable e-mobility solutions locally. Preparations for e-charging stations at the Corporate Center are underway, so that employees and guests will be able to refuel their vehicles with green electricity before the end of the year. Numerous other locations are also creating the conditions for charging columns.

Joint offsetting strategy

CO2 emissions from the individual Bertelsmann companies are offset through a common portfolio of selected and independently certified climate protection projects. In this way, CO2 emissions at Bertelsmann are offset by the removal and storage of CO2 elsewhere. The effectiveness of the projects is ensured, among other things, by independent certification according to established climate-protection standards. Since last year, Bertelsmann has purchased climate protection certificates from the “Campo Grande” reforestation project in Brazil. The project covers an area of 1,055 hectares, was implemented on former farmland and protects not only the climate but also biodiversity in the region.

Climate-neutral trailblazers

In a company as diverse as Bertelsmann, the goal of climate neutrality by 2030 is necessarily being achieved at different speeds. A checklist provides Group companies with guidance on what criteria need be met to achieve climate neutrality. For example, the publishing houses of Penguin Random House Germany and UK, BMG, and Bertelsmann Printing Group IT are pioneers who had already implemented climate neutrality for their sites and employee mobility by 2020. The Corporate Center has also been climate-neutral since last year. The GGP Media print shop in Pößneck has fully offset all its site- and employee-related emissions since the beginning of 2021 and offers its customers climate-neutral book production.

You can find more information on “Bertelsmann Climate Neutral by 2030” here.