For us, sustainability is an investment in the future. Our holistic approach extends beyond our contribution to environmental conservation and social development to include the continuous improvement of our processes and procedures. We are rigorously implementing measures aimed at increasing efficiency. This allowed us to hold our own pretty well in 2013, despite an increasingly challenging business climate over the course of the year. Through our initiatives, we target the Group’s key business processes, such as the production and transport of our products. We have succeeded in cutting down energy consumption, optimising plants and reducing the journeys needed for delivery. This is our way of combining excellence in operations with cost savings and environmental protection.
We plan to make even further progress in sustainability and have set ourselves measurable non-financial targets next to our specific financial targets. A main focus here is on safety and increasing energy efficiency. One of our targets is to improve the average energy intensity of our globally installed air separation plants by 5 percent by 2017. Thanks to the measures necessary to achieve this goal, we have so far been able to avoid more than 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Through projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency, we saved some EUR 35 million and prevented more than 220,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2013 alone.
Sustainable business practices also mean helping new technologies succeed – especially technologies that contribute to an affordable, reliable and eco-friendly energy supply. We are prepared to lead the way towards this goal, such as in the field of hydrogen. At Linde, we are committed to helping unleash the potential of hydrogen as an environmentally friendly source of energy and as a method for storing electricity from renewable sources.
We also live up to our social responsibility. My fellow Executive Board members and I approved a Code of Conduct for Suppliers of The Linde Group in 2013. This code of conduct defines the requirements we place on our suppliers regarding safety, environmental protection, labour standards and compliance. In addition, we published a global position on human rights in early 2014, in which we affirm our support of human rights and describe the steps we are taking to anchor this voluntary commitment. These and other activities show that we are living by the principles of the United Nations Global Compact within our Group.
I am delighted that our progress on sustainability management was repeatedly acknowledged in 2013. The inclusion of our Group in the global Dow Jones Sustainability Index again last year is one example of this.
Linde has set the right course. We are counting on the expertise and commitment of our approximately 63,500 employees worldwide for our continued success. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of them. They have made Linde what it is today: the world’s largest gases and engineering company – a company that is well positioned globally, has a sustainable business model and offers promising prospects for the future.
Professor Dr Wolfgang Reitzle
Chief Executive Officer of Linde AG