So, you also encourage transparency along the supply chain to better plan your next steps?
Maxfield Weiss: I see our questionnaire as a framework, which of course starts with the aspects of transparency and disclosure. However, it can also be understood as a set of guidelines, and is aligned with the TCFD recommendations (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures) for better climate-related financial reporting. These guidelines are based on stakeholder expectations and the information that companies need in order to understand the opportunities and risks in their supply chain. It also provides investors with the information they need to assess the impact of their investment decisions. Therefore, we would like companies to see the CDP questionnaire not only as an evaluation tool, but as a tool to organise and structure their business decisions.
Where do the highest CO₂ emissions occur in the production?
Maxfield Weiss: Emissions that occur in the supply chain tend to be on average over 11 times larger than the operational emissions of a company. This is because emissions from upstream stages of the production process are often higher than direct emissions from production. This should be considered in strategic action planning, to avoid business risks related to environmental impacts within the supply chain.
Timo Brechenmacher: Following this along the entire lifecycle is also becoming increasingly important, in view of the growing number of electric vehicles. With regard to the supply chain, the focus is therefore shifting to emissions during the supplier's manufacturing process, as they arise in e.g. battery cell production and in the mining and further processing of the battery raw materials. Other focus topics are steel, aluminium and polymers.
What positive influence does Mercedes-Benz have in energy-intensive areas of the value chain, such as steel or aluminium production?
Timo Brechenmacher: With Ambition 2039 we at Mercedes-Benz want to be CO₂-neutral along the entire value chain. We can only achieve this goal together with our suppliers. We have therefore issued an 'Ambition Letter' to our suppliers to support our ambitious climate targets and induce them to supply us only with CO₂-neutral products by 2039. So far, over 88 per cent of our suppliers in terms of procurement volume have agreed to this. We are thus making CO₂-neutrality an important criterion for contract placement within our procurement processes: a supplier who fails to sign the Ambition Letter will not be considered for further contracts.
In addition, we are the first passenger car manufacturer to participate in the Swedish start-up "H2 Green Steel", and will use CO₂-free steel in our series production vehicles in the future. An important milestone when you consider that on average, half of a Mercedes-Benz saloon is made of steel. In addition, we are pursuing the goal of a green steel supply chain together with all our steel suppliers.
Right in line with the motto: procurement means power?
Timo Brechenmacher: Naturally, procurement plays an important role in the sustainable transformation of our company. In order to drive technological change, continuously optimise technologies and achieve our global climate goals, we rely on long-term supplier relationships based on confidence. We have agreed the purchase of battery cells and modules from CO₂-neutral production with two strategic partners for battery cells, starting with the EQS.
Maxfield Weiss: We also see positive opportunities to influence things through cooperation in the area of climate targets themselves. We are encouraged by companies that use their exposed position to set science-based targets and support other companies in adopting a best-in-class approach. Organisations that act early and set a science-based target can be one step ahead in terms of future stakeholder expectations.