When Volvo CE joined the WWF Climate Savers programme it committed to reducing CO2 by 7 million tonnes in 5 years. It is fully on track to achieve this and is even ahead of the target, said Thomas Bitter, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Portfolio, Volvo CE.
Speaking at the CCC Summit in Gothenburg, 19 June, Thomas Bitter said he is proud of the fact that Volvo CE was the first in this area of industry to sign up to the WWF Climate Savers programme.
“Volvo CE has been working very seriously and in three key areas,” he explained. “We do it on the product side for our machines; we try to do it internally at our production sites; and we try to educate our customers and their drivers, on how they can contribute.
“We have also made a commitment to reduce by 2% the waste in our factories. In reality we are up to 3%, even better than we have estimated at the beginning.
“We are sticking to our targets; we are fully committed to deliver.”
Looking to the future Bitter explained that wew disruptive technologies can help cut emissions in infrastructure.
“There are three disruptive technologies where we have to be innovative: electrification, connectivity and automation.
“Because we have a shortage of skilled operators in our industry, automation might be an answer to that; we have to respond to more stringent legislation on emissions, and electrification is a good solution for that; and we need smart machines, which you can only obtain when you have them connected.”
Commenting on the progress of the CCC project over the past 3 years the Volvo CE Vice President said that while participation in the project has increased considerably, it is the quality of the debate which impresses him most.
“The whole quality of the debate has risen.When I listen to the exchanges – particularly from people outside of our normal customer environment – the whole level of discussion has been lifted up and I think that makes the big change.
“Also when I listen to discussion of infrastructure projects, the necessity to be carbon neutral has clearly settled in. It’s a given now which was not the case 3-5 years ago.”
A challenge of the CCC project was bringing together industry players who were basically competitors. The solution was to create a neutral platform. “We have had several CCC events and Summits all over the world and it is working fine because people are driven by the same objective: talking, exchanging, sharing and bringing the whole challenge forward,” Bitter explains.
Why is Volvo CE so keen to be at the centre of industry efforts to promote low carbon infrastructure and construction?
It’s not a question of being in the centre. When we discussed in our company the challenges for our planet, for our environment, our industry, it became obvious that the environmental challenge is one of the biggest.
And we came to the conclusion that sustainability for environment’s sake and for economic sake are not a contradiction.
We believe it is to drive business to make our customers more successful, and we will support them. It is not about us being in the centre. It is us working with customers and their customers together, to increase the potential of the value chain. Nothing more, nothing less.
What motivated Volvo CE to get behind the CCC project?
I think that something like the CCC has not really existed in out industry and 4-5 years ago we had an internal discussion how we could bring different partners of the infrastructure industry together.
And it’s a tricky issue because we are talking about people who are competitors in business, competitors with ourselves. We wanted to create a neutral platform where we can have the exchange that we just saw and he have just listened to today. And we have had several sessions of the CCC events and summits all over the world working fine because people are driven by the same objective: talking, exchanging, sharing and bringing the whole challenge forward.
How do you assess the progress of the CCC project over the past 3 years?
I was here two years ago when we had the kick-off, the first summit and if I compared only these two events, and there have been many others in between, in terms of participation, that’s easy to count, we have increased tremendously, but quantity is not the only thing.
Quality is the thing and if I listen to the exchanges that we hear, particularly from people outside of our normal customer environment, when I talk with NGOs, we see the reaction of politicians and academics, the whole level of discussion has been lifted up and I think that makes the big change.
In addition to that we are supporting research projects and there we have made tremendous progress.
So it’s quantity, certainly, but also the quality of debate. And I think I am convinced that when I listen about certain infrastructure projects, the necessity to be carbon neutral has clearly settled in. It’s a given now which was not the case 3-5 years ago.
What technologies does Volvo CE has which will help cut emissions in infrastructure?
I think the game-changers for us, from an equipment manufacturing perspective as well as from a highway truck perspective – as the Volvo Group we have the same view on that – there are three disruptive technologies where we have to be innovative, as we are: that is electrification for obvious reasons, connectivity and automation.
Because we have a shortage of skilled operators in our industry, automation might be an answer to that, we have to respond to more stringent legislation on emissions, and electrification is a good solution for that, and we need smart machines, which you can only obtain when you have them connected.
What actions can be taken by the construction industry worldwide to cut emissions in infrastructure?
I think we heard it today from many participants in the seminar it is the elimination of the waste we have in our industry. And what surprised me, and is probably new to me, is to question ourselves whether we have to do certain projects, that is the first thing, and if we do projects, do we do them more intelligently. And do we reduce waste in building materials, be it concrete, be it steel or earth, or do we have waste reduction in the machinery we are using, so that concerns more us and there as well we have huge potential as we can see in pilot projects with our customers.
Volvo CE joined the WWF Climate Savers programme. How has this relationship developed?
First of all we are very proud. In our industry, we were the first to sign up. And we take the commitment we have made – 7 million tonnes of CO2 reduction in 5 years – very seriously and we do it on all 3 aspects.
We do it on the product side for our machines, we try to do it internally at our production sites, our factories, and we try to educate our customers and their drivers, how they can contribute.
And if I only take the second part, we have made a commitment to reduce by 2% the waste in our factories, in reality we are up to 3%, even better than we have estimated at the beginning. So the take-away for me is that first of all we are sticking to our targets, we are fully committed to deliver.
What messages will you be taking home from this Summit?
What I learned today and was new to me is that in our industry the question is asked ‘do we have to build infrastructure? Do we need something new? I wasn’t aware that these thoughts existed. And that is very encouraging because we have to be very careful about our resources and how we use them, and the first question is do I need a new road, can I refurbish it, can I still use it, and do I have alternatives. This is a major take-away.
The second take-away is the way people interact in the Summit is very interesting for us to see. And it is far beyond our expectations.
So my take-away from this Summit is that it is a great success.