Engagement with stakeholders
We consult our major stakeholders on a regular basis about key topics. Our most important stakeholders are our employees, customers and suppliers, and shareholders, as well as politicians, economists and scientists, non-governmental organisations, neighbours in the vicinity of our sites and the general public. We conduct regular analyses of the expectations of major shareholders in our Group, in order to identify at an early stage relevant topics, opportunities and risks.
In 2015, we once again conducted a survey within the Group about sustainability topics across all regions. The survey covered local activities and focus areas, collaborations with stakeholders and corporate citizenship within communities. We incorporate the results of the survey into our report.
We engage in debates with experts on specialist topics. The invitation to our Linde Technology Days 2015 on the subject of digitalisation was accepted not only by specialists within our Group but also by experts from other companies. The participants discussed how digitalisation is changing the business world and examined the opportunities and competitive advantages arising as a result.
We cooperate with scientific institutions and other companies to develop sustainable solutions; for example, in the fields of energy supply and mobility. Linde is one of the founding members of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), the largest demonstration project for hydrogen-based mobility in Europe. With the support of the German government, the CEP is testing fuel-cell vehicles and their refuelling systems. H2 Mobility is the name of a joint venture between Linde and five leading industrial companies devoted to setting up a nationwide network of hydrogen filling stations in Germany. The network of public hydrogen filling stations in Germany is planned to be expanded to around 400 by 2023.
Linde is an active member of a number of German, European and international industry associations and trade associations. These include the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the German Engineering Association (VDMA), the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA), the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and the Asian Industrial Gases Association (AIGA). From October 2014 to December 2015, our Chief Executive Officer, Dr Wolfgang Büchele, was Chairman of the North Africa Middle East Initiative of German Business (NMI). In November 2015, he was elected Chairman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations. He assumed office on 1 January 2016. Linde is also a member of selected corporate responsibility networks. These include the UN Global Compact and econsense (the Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business).
In 2015, our dialogue with politicians and society focused among other things on securing a competitive framework for the purchase of energy for our production plants and on the reform of the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Increasing use of renewable energy as a source of energy and ambitious climate protection targets in Germany and in Europe are creating significant opportunities for innovative and efficient technologies. On the other hand, the transformation of the energy system and ambitious climate targets result in rising costs for the industry. Against this backdrop, Linde has highlighted the importance of industrial gases for a variety of industrial value chains. In addition, we have provided information about the contribution made by our technologies to climate protection and efficiency. One particular example of this is our commitment to the expansion of emission-free electromobility through hydrogen-powered and fuel cell vehicles.
As a group, Linde does not make donations to political parties or to individuals. In the United States, employees of Linde North America have formed a political action committee. Under the umbrella of this independent registered committee, employees collect donations to politicians, political parties and associations and make decisions as to how the funds will be used.