Business success and sustainability
Professor Dr Aldo Belloni,
Chief Executive Officer of Linde AG
Professor Belloni, how relevant is sustainability for Linde?
Sustainability is one of Linde’s core principles. For us, environmental protection and social responsibility are inextricably linked with long-term business success. Sustainable management also helps us to open up new markets and to be an attractive employer and good neighbour at our business locations. We are fully committed to the principles set out in the UN Global Compact and in addition we ourselves have made a number of voluntary commitments.
In this context, what were the most important topics for Linde in 2016?
Safety and environmental protection have always been particularly relevant to Linde. On the Executive Board, we adopted a new safety strategy in 2016 which is designed to reduce risks even further. In the area of transport safety, for example, we are again setting stricter standards and we now include incidents in the statistics which were previously deemed to be non-preventable. In order to reach our target of reducing the number of serious transport incidents by 20 percent by the end of 2020, we provide for instance driver education programmes for both Linde drivers and contractors’ drivers and we are investing more in vehicle safety. In the area of environmental protection, our efforts to avoid CO2 emissions make a contribution to the global climate protection agenda agreed at the end of 2015 at the UN Climate Conference in Paris. In the period from 2009 to the end of 2016, we were able to save 3.3 million tonnes of CO2 as a result of technical improvements and more efficient production processes. By 2020, we aim to save a total of 6 million tonnes of CO2.
Which Linde products have benefits for the environment and for society?
They cover a wide spectrum. In the chemical industry, for example, we help reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides through the use of oxygen. Overall in 2016, our customers were able to save significantly more CO2 with our products than we emitted in the course of our business operations. More than half of our research and development projects in the reporting year also aimed to achieve a benefit for the environment. And in the social field, our Healthcare business is a good example. For around 1.8 million patients, being treated at home with our oxygen therapy and additional Linde Homecare therapies means greater independence and a better quality of life. At the same time, the financial burden on the public healthcare system is reduced.
Which sustainability projects is Linde working on at the moment?
Just to give one example: Linde is a pioneer in environmentally friendly hydrogen technologies. When hydrogen is used as a fuel, it doesn’t release any CO2 and it can play an important role in the transition to a more environmentally friendly – more sustainable – energy supply. We are working to exploit the full potential of this energy source. At the beginning of 2017, we joined forces with twelve global companies to form the Hydrogen Council to provide additional impetus in this area. We see an opportunity here to make an active contribution to global climate protection targets by working together with industry, political decision makers and our customers.
Looking forward, where do you see the greatest opportunities for Linde in the area of sustainability?
First of all, we are doing everything we can to meet the targets we have set ourselves. We are planning, for example, to introduce new measures in 2017 to live our safety culture more consciously. Secondly, we are focusing measures in places where we have particularly good leverage to make a contribution to sustainable development. Here, we are also relying on our innovation strategy, with its focus on areas such as environment and resources or quality of life.