Several Wind Turbines in rolling fields

Fundamentals of decarbonization: Turning commitments into action

Matt Helgeson, Head of Sustainability, Siemens USA

Editor’s note: Learn more about Siemens sustainability initiatives here and follow along on Instagram @Siemens_USA 

 

According to Forbes, 80 percent of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February. I imagine that number has only increased by this time in late April, and only eight percent of people maintain those resolutions through the end of the year. Even commitments made with the best intentions are sure to fade when we don’t put the fundamentals first.

 

In 2015, Siemens made a commitment to be carbon neutral in our operations by 2030—an ambitious target for our company with a footprint spanning over 200 countries around the world. In 2020, we surpassed the halfway point towards our goal and challenged ourselves further to be net zero by 2030, prioritizing physical reduction in line with the Science Based Targets initiative.

 

This is more than wishful thinking or an annual routine; this is a promise to our stakeholders to use our breadth and capabilities to make a positive impact on the planet and help our customers do the same.

Cities, countries, and federal governments are joining the private sector in setting similar goals in this target-setting phase, magnifying the need for tangible and direct action towards net zero. By taking aim at a target, we’re developing a strategy. 
Matt Helgeson, Head of Sustainability, Siemens USA

A recent assessment by Climate Action 100+ revealed that 69 percent of focused companies have committed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. However, many have failed to show progress across key indicators. So, what can companies do to move the needle? You might say we’re getting back to the basics in a space that’s new to many.

 

Cities, countries, and federal governments are joining the private sector in setting similar goals in this target-setting phase, magnifying the need for tangible and direct action towards net zero. By taking aim at a target, we’re developing a strategy.

 

The first step is understanding the emissions sources within our operations. What’s our baseline CO2e footprint? Where What tools are available to address those sources now? Understanding the answers to these questions is critical for many reasons, but, perhaps most importantly, it exposes our potential excuses to just continue with “business as usual.”

 

For Siemens, that evaluation led us to our office and manufacturing spaces, data centers, to our own vehicle fleet and the transportation of our people and products, and to our supply chain. Our baseline was clearly defined, and we knew exactly where to begin our decarbonization journey.

 

To answer the call and continue our efforts forward, we’ve developed a fleet electrification program to transition all 10,000 of our U.S. vehicles to electric. We’re also working with our real estate and supply chain organizations to drive building electrification, replacing gas-burning process equipment and expanding our renewable-energy purchasing strategy. But that’s just the beginning.

 

In Princeton, New Jersey, home to Siemens Technology’s North American R&D hub, our researchers deployed the Siemens Princeton Microgrid—one of the first to combine renewable energy solutions with both building management and energy management solutions. These are replicable solutions that we hope to implement at other facilities and for our customers.

 

We’re now at the point in the United States where climate-driven commitments and decarbonization targets have been evaluated and set for many of us. And we know exactly what needs to be addressed to get to net zero. We have prioritized the tools available to us and it’s time to put them use.

 

Unlike New Year’s resolutions, no one has the luxury to let our climate commitments fade. Our communities, our health, and our future depend on it.

 

Siemens is supporting the Decade of Action to accelerate the adoption of sustainable technologies so our customers, our communities, and our employees can lead the U.S. towards a low-carbon future. And according to the sixth installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, the next few years are even more critical than we expected. “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F),” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

 

What more do we need to hear? The assignment isn’t easy but the path is clear—fundamental decarbonization must be our first priority. Near-term progress in these areas will be incredibly impactful to our long-term commitments. 

 

Let’s help each other and get to work. 

Published: April 28, 2022