Reduce & compensate greenhouse gases, that is our contribution to more climate protection.
VAUDE has been climate neutral as a company with all products since January 1, 2022. We have reached this milestone by focusing not only on consistent and systematic reduction, but also on offsetting emissions that are harmful to the climate. Here you can find out how the interaction for active climate protection works.
For our Managing Director Antje von Dewitz, it is clear that climate protection is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The climatic conditions under which we will be able to live in the future depend to a large extent on how we act today. Climate scientists tell us this very clearly. That is why we at VAUDE act consistently and pursue a clear climate strategy.
"Protecting our climate requires the highest priority - we must act now with all our might to preserve our quality of life on our wonderful planet!"
Global warming to 1.5 degrees.
"We want to do our part to limit man-made global warming to 1.5 degrees. This goal is at the beginning of all our efforts," explains Hilke Patzwall, our senior manager for sustainability and corporate responsibility. In order to know how we can achieve this target in concrete terms, we have already joined the international Science Based Targets initiative in 2019, which is supported by the renowned WWF, among others. Instead of just conjecturing, with the help of our carbon footprint and support from the initiative, we can determine climate targets and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a scientific basis. Specifically, this means we have defined three climate targets for VAUDE based on science.
With science-based targets, we reduce our emissions
Our three science-based climate goals:
1.VAUDE commits to reduce absolute Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions 45 % by 2026, starting from a base year of 2019.
Scope 1 emissions are generated at our German company site, e.g. in our Made in Germany factory. E.g. in our Made in Germany manufacturing or from our vehicle fleet, etc.
2.VAUDE commits to continue annually sourcing 100 % renewable electricity through 2030.
Scope 2 emissions originate from purchased energy at our German company site.
3.VAUDE commits to reduce absolute Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions covering purchased goods and services 50 % by 2030, starting from a base year of 2019.
Scope 3 emissions occur in our global supply chain, with the majority attributable to energy consumption for materials and their production.
Investing in climate protection from advertising budgets
Achieving these ambitious targets quickly will require a high level of investment. We have therefore decided to reallocate budgets. "Climate before advertising" is the internal motto, which means nothing other than cutting spending on advertising and investing in climate protection. The money for compensation plus at least the same amount for measures to reduce emissions will be taken from our marketing budget.
What exactly does climate neutral mean?
Before reducing or compensating for climate-damaging emissions, a company must know which and how much of them it emits. This is because measurability is always part of the guiding principle of science-based action. Since not only CO2 but also other gases impact the global climate, the matter quickly becomes complex. The unit CO2 equivalent (CO2e), into which other harmful climate gases such as methane are converted, has become established as an international benchmark.
For climate accounting and subsequent offsetting, we at VAUDE work together with the international non-profit organization myclimate. In practice, this means that we measure our total resource consumption and report these figures to myclimate. From this, our carbon footprint is calculated in CO2 equivalents. This value is the scientific basis for our reduction and compensation measures: The lower the value, the better. On the one hand for the climate, on the other hand for the treasury, because for every ton of CO2e we pay myclimate a so-called offset contribution as compensation.
myclimate uses the offsetting payments to finance measures that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and at the same time improve the quality of life of the people in the project areas and evaluates these measures according to various standards, of which the Gold Standard is the highest. Anyone who fully offsets their CO2e can call themselves climate neutral.
Our German company site with all products manufactured there has already been climate neutral since 2012.
We have been measuring all consumption at our German company site in Tettnang for more than 10 years and have been climate-neutral there - with all products manufactured in our own factory - since 2012. Since 2019, we have also been recording all material consumption for all products and the energy consumption of the most important material manufacturers. This allows us to calculate a complete carbon footprint for VAUDE as a company, including all products.
Measure, reduce, compensate - in triad to climate neutrality
Once the CO2 equivalents have been determined, the next step is to reduce one's own footprint by saving. Offsetting is what cannot (yet) be reduced. However, the reduction target has priority. At our Tettnang-Obereisenbach headquarters in particular, we have done an extremely great deal over the last ten years to improve our overall climate footprint. This includes, for example, switching to 100 percent green electricity, 100 percent recycled paper, an organic canteen, and dispensing with resource consumption of all kinds wherever possible. The in-house mobility concept is also a special feature.
In order to reduce emissions from our employee mobility, we rely on rail for business trips, increasingly on e-mobility for our vehicle fleet, and we offer our employees incentives to switch to bicycles, including leasing and our own bicycle loan pool.
However, the topic of mobility also shows where the challenges lie for a company that takes a holistic view of its environmental performance: "Despite our commitment to e-mobility, we still have a lot of diesel vehicles, for example in the field. We will be completely changing over here in the next few years. And when it comes to mobility, we won't make any progress without a real change in traffic patterns," Hilke admits openly and adds:
"Renewable energies are an important key. We can't do without them, which is why the energy turnaround is so unspeakably important for protecting our planet. This also applies to e-mobility, which is only as green as the electricity that is charged. "
Clean energy from waste: Gold Standard offsetting in Vietnam
In order to nevertheless further reduce emissions and resource consumption throughout the company, we at VAUDE are currently addressing two topics in particular that offer high savings potential: on the one hand, the material used for our products, and on the other, emissions in the supply chain:
"By 2024, at least 90% of all VAUDE products should have a biobased or recycled material content of more than 50%"
hilke explains concrete climate targets. This is because the use of renewable raw materials or the recycling of materials conserves fossil resources and significantly reduces CO2 emissions in material production. In order to reduce emissions in global supply operations as well, we have developed a four-step model with a long-term focus:
1. Raise awareness of climate protection.
2. Provide support in measuring consumption.
3. Develop an energy management system together with suppliers.
4. Switch to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible.
Climate protection is a team sport - we can only win the race against climate change if we work together!
This model is being implemented as part of an empowerment program with suppliers. In addition, we are relying on alliances within the industry and, of course, on setting the political course for a global energy turnaround. Because without them, the Scope 3 reductions to which VAUDE has committed cannot be achieved. "Climate protection is a team sport - we can only win the race against climate change together!", Hilke is certain.
However, it is also clear that zero emissions are currently not yet possible for a manufacturing company, if only because of the emissions caused by raw material extraction, material production and transport. "That's why offsetting is currently still an important part of any climate neutrality strategy. In the long term, however, the goal is net zero," says Hilke.
But what exactly does offsetting look like?
As a matter of principle, we only offset according to the Gold Standard. These projects not only make an active contribution against the climate crisis, but also help to improve living conditions in the project areas. The Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and other conservation organizations and is based on the Clean Development Mechanism set out in the Kyoto Protocol as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
We therefore have no influence on the design of the offset project. This is developed by myclimate according to the specifications of the Gold Standard. However, we can choose the project into which our offset contribution should flow. Since 2021, we have been supporting a measure in Vietnam that helps to generate clean energy from waste.
Vietnam is a matter of the heart for VAUDE!
In addition to the Gold Standard, the project area has the highest priority in the selection of the measure. With conviction, Hilke explains the choice of the current offset project:
"We always compensate according to the Gold Standard and we want to compensate where we produce."
"We have always had a special connection to Vietnam as a long-standing and important production site. Even more so since our company founder Albrecht von Dewitz founded his own production facility there in 2008 with VAUDE Vietnam. Vietnam is a matter of the heart!"
The actual project takes place primarily in the rural and agricultural regions of the Southeast Asian country. In the small-scale agriculture that prevails there, wood and dung are the main source of energy for cooking and heating, which was mostly done through open, inefficient and sooty cooking stoves whose emissions polluted the climate and the respiratory system of the inhabitants*. Moreover, the collection of firewood is usually the task of women and children, who have to spend a lot of time on this arduous work. Last but not least, the use of wood as a fuel burdens the ecosystem through deforestation and the associated erosion. In addition, the climate loses a valuable CO2 reservoir.
The myclimate project addresses all these issues. Together with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Dutch non-governmental organization SNV, 200,000 local biogas plants are being built in rural areas, in which kitchen and toilet waste as well as animal dung are decomposed into regeneratively produced gas, which is then piped to the connected houses to serve as a clean fuel and energy source. The residual materials from the plants can be used as fertilizer in the fields. The myclimate Gold Standard project in Vietnam has saved more than 15,000 hectares of forest since its launch.
The positive impact is enormous
According to myclimate, this project achieves eleven Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, see above) at once. Energy production in 2019 was over 166 million kilowatt hours, about three million tons of CO2 have not been emitted since the start of the program, and more than 15,000 hectares of forest have not been cleared. More than 850,000 people benefit from 60 percent lower energy costs, nearly 3,000 found new jobs building and maintaining the plants, and more than 60 percent of households in the project regions can do without chemical fertilizers.
"Unlike in some European biogas plants, no food is converted into gas as a matter of principle," Hilke emphasizes, so there is no additional land consumption.
The project therefore has nothing in common with the industrially operated biogas plants that have come under criticism in Central Europe in recent years because energy crops are sometimes produced in monoculture for their operation and transported over hundreds of kilometers. The construction method is based on local traditions; the small plants are made of clay bricks and follow a typical national design; in addition, most of them are built underground.
Is compensation tantamount to a free ride?
In parts of the European public, the achievement of climate neutrality through offsetting is criticized as a modern trade in indulgences, i.e., a "buy-out" to suggest a high climate commitment with climate neutrality as an advertising slogan. You buy the right to dirt, a business magazine once headlined, and thus do little to combat climate change. Unfortunately, the market for certificate providers is opaque and it is repeatedly made public that their CO2 savings potential is far removed from reality. The issue is complex and, as is often the case with complex issues, it is important to take a close look.
Hilke Patzwall explains our view on this as follows: "Offsetting is right and not a trade in indulgences if it is part of a comprehensive climate strategy and science-based targets for reducing greenhouse gases go hand in hand with the right form of compensation The Federal Environment Agency agrees. According to the agency, "Climate-conscious actions, such as flying less or eating fewer animal products, can avoid or at least reduce emissions. For the remaining emissions, the final step toward climate neutrality is to consider offsetting them, also called compensation."
Offsetting is right when it is part of a comprehensive climate strategy and goes hand-in-hand with reducing greenhouse gases.
We take a critical view of offsetting as a stand-alone solution, because if the world simply continues to do business as usual and puts growth before everything else, even the best offsetting measures can do little to protect the climate. We are therefore increasingly trying to decouple our corporate growth from resource consumption and thus from emissions. Hilke puts the idea into words like this: "We have to come down with the total amount of resource consumption and emissions, i.e. in absolute terms and not just relative to other indicators such as turnover or number of employees*." And further: