The Volkswagen Group’s environmental strategy

Climate change, resource availability and urbanization are some of the major global challenges faced by the Volkswagen Group. These challenges are also reflected in the growing demands placed on the Group – from politicians enforcing ambitious environmental regulations around the world, from investors who expect us to anticipate and manage the resulting risks, and from customers who are increasingly interested in low-emission, environmentally friendly vehicles.

Our goal is to become a role model in all things related to the environment and to actively support the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Targets and guidelines

The Volkswagen Group’s future program, TOGETHER – Strategy 2025, reveals how Volkswagen plans to excel. By taking responsibility, we intend to become a role model in all things related to the environment. To this end, we have defined the following targets:

  • To continuously reduce our carbon footprint
  • To continuously reduce the harmful emissions
  • To continuously reduce the resource consumption

In our quest to become a role model in all things related to the environment, we have drawn up several guidelines:

  • In addition to addressing the global challenge of climate change (reducing CO2 emissions), our approach covers all other environmental resources, especially conserving water, soil and air quality as well as energy and raw materials. Our decades of experience and the expertise we have built up as a result will come to fruition both globally and locally.
  • We employ a holistic approach by researching, developing and democratizing environmentally friendly innovations, significantly reducing the environmental burden in the process.
  • We significantly reduce the environmental burden throughout the entire product life cycle by setting ourselves ambitious goals and acting as a driving force in both the production phase (supply chain) and the usage phase of our products.
  • We communicate our measures, achievements and projects as transparently as possible.
  • Our achievements are substantiated by high rankings in environmental awards.

We can only reach our goals if we firmly entrench environmentally relevant issues in our organizational and decision-making processes. Our long-established environmental management system provides the basis for this.

All environmental protection activities in the Volkswagen Group are centered around our global principles, which have been expanded and improved over the years, and which are binding for all Group brands:

  • Group Environmental Principles for Locations/Production (2007)
  • Group Environmental Principles for Product (2008)
  • Mission Statement on Biodiversity (2008)
  • Group Environmental Policy (2010)

Group environmental protection bodies

The Group Board of Management is the highest internal decision-making authority on environmental matters. Since 2012, it has simultaneously functioned as the Group’s Sustainability Board. The Group-wide management of environmental protection is the responsibility of the Group Steering Committee for the Environment and Energy, with support from numerous specialist bodies such as:

  • the Group Life Cycle Engineering working group
  • the Group Steering Committee for CO2
  • the Vehicle Recycling Steering Committee
  • the Group Energy working group

These committees assess and analyze environmental opportunities and risks. To cover the entire value chain (life cycle approach), the corresponding divisions of the Group are represented in the Group Steering Committee for the Environment and Energy.

The brands and companies are independently responsible for environmental organization at their headquarters and locations, but base their environmental policies on the targets, guidelines and principles that apply throughout the Group.

2014 saw the inception of the Environmental Task Force, mandated with identifying and implementing potential savings at the locations. This team of analysts from Group research environment acts as a networking intermediary in the Company between departments, such as planning, maintenance and operations. The broad-based knowledge of the Environmental Task Force, the many solutions and ideas from the locations and the transfer of measures via the massnahmen@web IT tool all help to promote a lively Group-wide dialog.

Engaging the workforce

Only a well-informed, qualified workforce can implement the specific measures derived from our environmental strategy and achieve the set targets. Already since 1976, environmental officers at our European locations have regularly convened to share their knowledge and experience. Regular Group Environmental Conferences were introduced in 1998 as a forum for the Group’s Environmental Officers and experts to discuss strategies, measures and projects, and draw up joint action plans.

2013 saw the introduction of environmental protection ambassadors, as specially trained environmental experts. Worldwide, more than 1,000 ambassadors are now operating as front-line contacts and opinion leaders for production employees. Also, so-called Energy Experts receive special advanced training. The Wolfsburg facility alone has more than 70 of those experts helping their colleagues to save energy. Cross-brand, inter-departmental steering committees and working groups also operate at both management and expert level. Employee engagement is supported by an intranet portal showcasing best-practice examples and facilitating direct contact with all the relevant colleagues. The portal also outlines fundamental energy-saving guidelines and tips, including a number generated by the central ideas management program.