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VW Earns Top Honors for Sustainability & Carbon Disclosure

In his pioneering time and motion studies, Frederick W. Taylor applied empirical, data-driven scientific methods to business management, thereby contributing greatly to the creation of the socioeconomic paradigm that ushered in the modern Industrial Age. Today, leading business executives and public sector organizations are reaching beyond these narrow, shortsighted boundaries.

In an era where ecological sustainability, social responsibility and social equity pose growing opportunities, as well as threats, to the sustainability of their business enterprises, corporations of all stripes have a vested self-interest in helping create a much more holistic, interdisciplinary socioeconomic and business management paradigm such as that expressed in the triple bottom line.

Volkswagen AG (VW), the world's third largest automotive group, is at the forefront of this wave of fundamental change. With the launch of its Think Blue vision of environmental sustainability, VW elevated ecological and social responsibility to the level of profitability and quality as core business values and strategic drivers.

VW's efforts and progress on the triple bottom line front have been impressive, and they're ongoing. Recently, the company was recognized for its efforts to embrace sustainability and enhance the environmental and social sustainability of its activities from the Carbon Disclosure Project and RobecoSAM, as well as forging ahead in its efforts to make greater use of renewable energy.

VW earns top rankings in sustainability, carbon reporting

When it comes to sustainability, this past few weeks have been extraordinary for VW. For one, the global automotive group was recognized by sustainability investing group RobecoSAM as the most sustainable automotive group in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). VW also broke into the ranks of both the CDP Global 500 Climate Performance Leadership Index and the CDP Global 500 Climate Disclosure for Leadership Index for the first time.

Adding to this, VW announced the signing of a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Mexico Power Group to supply its manufacturing facilities in Puebla – the largest in the Americas – and Silao with 130 megawatts (MW) of wind-generated electrical power.

Volkswagen AG chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn had this to say regarding the company earning 89 of a possible 100 points and being rated the most sustainable among 31 automotive companies in the DJSI, “This distinction is a real milestone on our path towards becoming the leader in green mobility. We will devote all our energy to permanently establishing the Volkswagen Group as the world’s most sustainable automaker.”

Added Bernd Osterloh, chairman of VW AG's General Works Council,

“This honor testifies to our swift progress in systematically orienting the entire Group to maximum energy and resource efficiency. This success is undoubtedly attributable to the whole team. We will continue to focus on sustainable management – throughout the entire value chain.”

In addition, VW was classified in the highest Performance Band A for its sustainability performance, and scored 99 out of a possible 100 points for disclosure in the CDP Global Climate Change Report 2013, which analyzes the performance of the world's largest listed companies with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emssions and other climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

VW Mexico: 20-year, 130 MW wind power contract

Part and parcel of VW's ecological approach to auto manufacturing is making greater use of renewable energy. On September 5, Volkswagen Mexico announced the signing of a 20-year PPA with Mexican Power Group for 130 MW of wind-generated electricity from the latter's La Bufa wind farm in Zacatecas, a power supply contract that management expects will save the company some $3.5 million per year in electric utility bills.

The clean, renewable power will be used 245 and 700-plus kilometers (~ 152 and 435 miles) to the south by VW Mexico's engine manufacturing plant in Silao, Guanajuato and Puebla, the largest auto manufacturing plant in North America. Taken together, about 18,000 people are employed at the two plants.

With this agreement, Volkswagen Mexico prevents an annual emission of approximately 140,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. This initiative is part of Volkswagen’s Think Blue strategy, which aims to reduce the environmental mark of all Volkswagen plants around the world," VW Mexico board chairman Andreas Hinrichs was quoted in a press release.

For Zacatecas, completion of the La Bufa wind farm means good paying jobs, as well as long-term ecological and health benefits. According to state governor Alonso Reyes, who attended the signing event,
The economic and environmental benefits to our community will be enormous. This is the kind of project we need for our people, our workers, our families and our future. We are ready to work hand-in-hand with Mexico Power Group and Volkswagen Mexico on this important project."

President Enrique Pena Nieto and his administration are in the midst of trying to enact controversial and historic energy sector reforms.

Highlighting the advent of a new socioeconomic and ecologically conscious business management paradigm, Mexico Federal Government Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell stated,

This new era requires a new mindset, a renewed relationship of the Mexican people with energy, especially as we pass from the domain of fossil fuels to those coming from renewable sources, which are friendlier to nature.

“In this regard, we will pursue energy reform so that it will be easier for laudable projects such as this to gain access to the transmission network, so we can democratize power generation, and encourage the installation of more plants that would take advantage of clean energy, particularly renewables."
Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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