In February Kemira published its new 2030 target and set their ambition to be carbon neutral by 2045. The target was based on a very rigorous assessment of options and assessing the costs and benefits of each. In addition to profitability, one of the drivers for this assessment was to meet the expectations of customers, investors and other stakeholders and provide them with more thorough answers. To find out what lies behind the targets we asked Kemira’s Sustainability Director Rasmus Valanko how the project was carried out.
Understanding how climate change is shaping the operating environment is definitely topical at the moment. How is Kemira affected by climate change?
The main impact of climate change to us is through a changing business context. This means that direct and indirect policy or regulation influences our investments. An important indirect influencer is our customer base, many of which have ambitious targets and demands on their suppliers. The other aspect is through the physical impacts of climate change, meaning that we need to build resilience in our supply chain and have adaptive measures in place for some of our sites. Climate change is also a high priority for many of our other stakeholders. For instance, investors want to understand how we are mitigating risk and positioning Kemira for success in a carbon constrained world. Our response to this important issue is also a criteria of growing importance for attracting and retaining talent.
What was Kemira’s key driver to renew your own targets?
The first reason was that our prior target was running out in 2020, so we needed a replacement. At the same time, there was growing recognition within the company that our target needed to be aligned with the science and that the standards for setting targets have changed. The timing was also right since increasingly we needed a more thorough answer to questions that we receive from our customers and stakeholders.
For the renewal Gaia provided you with an analysis of the options. How did you find the results?
The results were very encouraging. Given the very rigorous assessment of options and costing these out, we found that the readiness level and costs of some key solutions have evolved slightly faster than we had anticipated. Also, we were able to make some choices already now on what future technologies to integrate into our operations by comparing alternatives. This avoids lock-in to solutions that will be sub-optimal in the long run. A significant outcome that the project supported was that we were able to create a below 2 degrees compatible pathway that is both possible and profitable. However, this is dependent on other actors in the value chain also having the same kind of ambition level.
What kind of new business opportunities does sustainability open up for Kemira?
There are many potential options to choose from and we have used the UN Sustainable Development Goals to help inform us where we can have the biggest positive impact. From these we have chosen to prioritize: SDG6 (Water) that links well to the water intensive industries that we serve, SDG 12 (Circular Economy) since we see chemistry at the heart of a circular economy, and SDG13 (Climate Action) to both implement our climate target plans and help customers improve energy efficiency. You can find out more about our approach from the first few pages of our 2019 Corporate Sustainability Report.
Gaia had the pleasure of working with Kemira. How did you find the co-operation?
This is not the first time we have worked with Gaia and we have a relatively long history together. This is no coincidence, since Gaia are able to complement our expertise in sustainability and also have a very good grasp of the challenges and opportunities faced by companies. While many consultancies are converging on the sustainable business space, Gaia is differentiated by the fact that their roots are in sustainability and so they can bring deep knowledge to support our work. Finally, Gaia staff have a flexible and open style of working that makes collaboration easy and efficient.