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Bayer has successfully pursued sustainability targets in the past, e.g. in the area of energy efficiency. Since then, sustainability has gained further importance in the company strategy, business processes and has become a basis for our long-term success. That is why the company has set itself even more ambitious targets for the new decade in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. For example, Bayer wants to become carbon-neutral and give 100 million women access to family planning options.
Dirk Backhaus Head of CS Product Supply
1. What do the new Bayer sustainability targets mean for Crop Science?
As a corporation, we are part of society and climate change likely is the major challenge of our time. We want to address this threat together with our customers, partners, and employees.
We presented the three pillars of our strategy already back in 2018: innovation, digitalization, and sustainability. For us, food security for a growing global population and the protection of biodiversity and the climate need to go together. We believe technology and innovation are key, like new biological or chemical crop protection solutions or robust varieties that help farmers grow enough. Sustainable agricultural intensification on existing arable land can also help protect biodiversity.
2. You have announced sustainability targets for Crop Science: 30-30-100 until 2030. What’s behind these numbers?
Our transformational targets support Bayer sustainability commitments and define how we want to make food production more sustainable. We will start in our own operations, yet we are also part of the global value chain and need to take a holistic approach.
Field farming practices can lead to significant greenhouse gas emissions. We are committed to advancing a carbon-zero future for agriculture through a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gases emitted*.
We also focus on sustainable intensification, for example through more productive crops and the use of fewer natural resources, crop protection, and fertilizer. We aim for a 30 percent reduction in environmental impact.
And, together with partners, we strive to improve the livelihoods of 100 million smallholder farmers through access to education and tailored solutions.
Admittedly, these are ambitious targets and we do not have all the answers. But we are on our way and will measure and report progress transparently.
3. You lead seed and crop protection production at Crop Science. Chemical production requires a lot of energy. Bayer wants to be carbon-neutral by 2030. What does that mean for your function?
In both chemical and seed production, we have seen progress to become more sustainable over the past years, e.g. through new technologies or innovative water management efforts.
To improve further, we will pursue several approaches: further efficiency increases, targeted investments in sustainable processes and the consistent switch to renewable energy. In addition, we are detailing out an internal CO2 price as a basis for strategic decisions.
Bayer joined the Science-Based Targets Initiative in 2019, a certified external approach to measure and reduce emissions. We are currently establishing a baseline and have begun to set savings targets for our chemical production and our seed production on ~1 million acres worldwide. We are assessing how to reduce emissions on the field or even keep them in the ground using new technologies. We are in an initial phase, but the teams are in it with lots of creativity and engagement.
Product Supply can make a significant contribution to the Bayer-wide goal to save about four million tons of CO2 per year. To become carbon-neutral by 2030, we will compensate for remaining emissions with CO2 certificates.
4. Do you have any suggestions for employees?
Our company wants to become more sustainable and many employees support this decision. Two aspects:
First, what can company leadership initiate to make sustainability an even stronger part of our operations? Which topics can we emphasize, which processes can we optimize, what could we support financially, such as electric car charging stations, or public transport use?
Second, it is about what each one of us can do, e.g. by reflecting on our daily routines. This could mean turning off the lights when leaving the office or bringing our own cup instead of using disposable ones. Employees could collect ideas at their workplace and share these with site leadership. We cannot and do not want to require any change in behavior but we welcome and support the engagement and creativity of our employees. We will only be successful in the long-term if sustainability is an integral part of our company strategy and corporate purpose.
* per kg of crop produced