Keys to a carbon neutral future – and it’s not just electromobility

Keys to a carbon neutral future – and it’s not just electromobility

The journey toward a more sustainable construction industry is well underway with a clear roadmap ahead to deliver carbon neutral equipment fit for the future. Battery electric and fuel cell electric products form a major part of this ambition. But if we want to reduce our environmental impact and build the world we want to live in, there are many more factors to consider.

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has a commitment to reach net zero value chain greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Developing battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric technology will go a long way to deliver on that ambition, but for a construction company today, there is much more to do to drive industry change. Let’s look at some of the other significant actions that are required on our collective journey to a carbon neutral future. 

1. Get everyone on the carbon reduction pathway 

“Perhaps the biggest hurdle ahead for us humans lies in changing mindsets. Combating climate change is not only about advancements in technology. We all need to do this together, think differently and change our behaviors and ways of working,” explains Niklas Nillroth, Head of Sustainability and Public Affairs at Volvo CE. 

Once a niche responsibility area, carbon reduction efforts now need to be the responsibility of each individual across an organization’s value chain with all parties having an important role to play. At Volvo CE, an inclusive culture and shared ownership form a foundation to driving that change, with employees educated and encouraged to think about how their actions impact the carbon footprint, and how they can make a real difference, big or small. Empowerment like this will accelerate change. 

“Climate change is real and one of the greatest challenges of our time. As a world leading manufacturer, we not only have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint, we also have the clear vision, determination and talents to drive this transformation that is so urgently needed now. The choices we make today will form the world tomorrow – and we choose to act,” concludes Melker Jernberg, President of Volvo CE. 

2. Take action across the supply chain with a circular approach 

Manufacturing is one of the largest single emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe, responsible for some 880 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents a year. As part of its Science Based Targets goals, Volvo CE has set itself the challenge to reduce CO2 emissions in its own operations by 50% by 2030. We know that reducing our vehicles’ emissions through electric solutions is integral to our carbon neutral ambitions, but we cannot forget the importance of our manufacturing processes. 

A circular economy approach will be vital here to shift from the linear ‘take, make, waste’ production and consumption model to a more sustainable value chain that designs out waste and pollution, bolsters competitive agility and drives new value. As well as incorporating recycled components for parts supply and manufacturing, Volvo Reman solution is focused on extending and optimizing the life of its machines by refurbishing and refining them to deliver like-new service. The end goal being to deliver a truly circular vehicle or machine that uses renewable energy efficiently, is built without waste, has maximum uptime and an optimal lifespan. 

3. Leverage the power of partnerships 

Real transformation requires a more cohesive, cooperative way of thinking. As Brunno Muller, Head of Advanced Manufacturing Engineering and Research at Volvo CE, says: “We cannot build the future we want by ourselves. We need to consider how we do this end-to-end, joining forces with partners and sharing experiences.” 

Whether that’s working with customers on test pilots to consistently improve the power of new technologies and products, through to collaborating with suppliers to source the best, most sustainable parts and processes, we need to partner with a range of groups from across our business and supply chain if we are to accelerate sustainable solutions. All actors in society need to come together – corporations, academia, policy-makers, and municipality leaders – to accelerate in important areas such as technology adaption, infrastructure and legislative transformation. With our combined expertise, we will be best placed to find new ways of working and to accelerate the changes needed for our carbon neutral future. 

4. Use data to deliver on sustainability goals 

According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, most of the data in the world (90%) was generated in the last two years. Harnessing the full power of this data is the challenge. With more than 150,000 connected vehicles and machines, Volvo CE is using the data it collects from customers across the globe to deliver improvements in safety, uptime and fuel efficiency, for today and tomorrow. New digital services, like Efficient Load Out, are making it possible for trucks and excavators to communicate more effectively with one another on the job site. By doing so it ensures trucks only depart for their destination once a goal weight has been reached, thereby reducing the number of trips and in turn reducing the associated emissions. 

The connected solutions we have made available today, and those that we are working on for tomorrow, allow our machines to operate in the most sustainable way possible. All of these incremental improvements combine to deliver energy efficiencies across all types of machines, whether they are electric or not – a vital step forward in our ongoing journey towards a carbon neutral future. 

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