COP 2017.

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP) and the commitment of the BMW Group can both look back on a long tradition. The BMW Group has taken part in climate conferences since 1992. In 2017, the company provided fresh impetus with the implementation of an ambitious energy and sustainability strategy.

When the countries celebrated the Paris Climate Agreement two years ago, they had defined clear objectives: to keep global warming within a threshold of two degrees and put an abrupt end to harmful CO2 emissions. This year at the 23rd UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, leading global stakeholders from politics, business and society got together to work out concrete solutions and measures to reduce global CO2 emissions. At the Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF) during the COP, the BMW Group once again took on an active role as the input provider and headline sponsor on 14 and 15 November 2017.

A conversation with Ursula Mathar, Head of Sustainability and Environmental Protection at the BMW Group, about the ambitious energy and sustainability strategy of the Munich-based company.

What is the BMW Group doing as an automobile manufacturer to help reduce CO2 emissions?

Ursula Mathar: The strategy and measures for sustainable economic activity are firmly anchored in the company. Supporting the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement is part of this. This primarily means that the future of the BMW Group is electric. For this reason, we will push forward with e-mobility at full speed in order to steadily reduce the harmful CO2 emissions in our fleet. We currently offer our customers nine electric models and an electric motorbike and thus have the largest range of electric vehicles among established premium manufacturers. We will increase this range to 25 vehicles by 2025. However, the focus of our work is not only on our products – we also follow an integrated energy and sustainability strategy. This also pertains to our electricity supply: by 2020, 100 percent of the electricity purchased by us will come from renewable energy. 

How do we intend to achieve this with more than two million cars produced every year?

We have gradually reduced CO2 emissions in our production in recent years. To this end, we have not only relied on wind and solar energy but also on biogas and methane gas power plants. We also take advantage of new storage options. In Leipzig, for example, we have just put a storage park made from used BMWi3 batteries into operation. Today, we already obtain 70 percent of purchased electricity from renewable sources. But that’s not all – we aspire to be the most successful and sustainable premium provider of individual mobility. This will be interesting since new technologies and challenges in turn offer innovative, attractive options that we will certainly take advantage of. That could be new business models for the integration of e-mobility into flexible energy systems or even alternative mobility solutions, such as our car-sharing service DriveNow. This is how we will redefine individual mobility.

So the BMW Group will be breaking new ground?

The principles formulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations are an integral element of our sustainability strategy. To achieve these, we will press ahead with sustainable technologies and mobility solutions and provide important stimuli. We therefore not only need to pay close attention to the CO2 emissions of our vehicles on the road but also to the resources in the upstream chain. On the basis of the discussions that we had with leading representatives from politics, business and society at the Sustainable Innovation Forums and COP, I am confident that the BMW Group must and can make a positive contribution here.