About a carbon-free future 🤲🌎. With Gisbert Rühl, previous CEO of Klöckner&co SE.
1) You have been Chief Executive Officer at klöckner&co SE, one of the largest producer-independent distributors of steel. Under your leadership klöckner&co has transformed into a digital platform company. Why did you decide to join carbmee’s mission and become a business angel?
I have always been interested in new solutions and ways to transform companies for the future. In the face of global challenges such as climate change we need start-ups with impact-driven people to find new customer-centric solutions. Both of carbmee’s founders are experts on the sustainability of supply chains and have now applied their knowledge and experience in the field to the reduction of scope 3 emissions via software.
When I was introduced to the idea for carbmee I immediately wanted to join forces. Especially large organizations have to become aware of the fact that pressure to tackle climate change is increasing from all sides. Digitization and access to high-quality data is the key to a successful reduction of emissions that will prove to be a foresighted investment. For klöckner&co automation has been vital to stay competitive and lead the field in a traditional industry. To prepare for a future with increased automation we founded kloeckner.i in 2014, that focuses on the digitization of the supply chain from procurement to delivery.
2) Why do industrial giants from steel and automotive industries find it difficult to roll out a decarbonization strategy at the operational level?
At the moment these industries are facing the challenge of reducing carbon dioxide and ensuring CO2 neutrality in processes and supply chains. The problem is insufficient access to high-quality data. Take the automotive industry for example, which manufactures cars with 1,000 components. In this case most of the emissions arise in the supply chain for goods and services. As a result, reducing these emissions turns out to be rather complex and is a cost factor. But especially heavy and automotive industries with high emissions can benefit from carbon management: Costs of carbon pollution through carbon prices and offsetting can be saved. What companies need to enhance their operational efficiency is software. It is time to provide such a solution to procurement and supply chain leaders so they can integrate sustainability into their strategy for the next decade to prevent emissions.
3) Where do you see industrial companies in the field of sustainability in 2030?
In 2030, at least in our country, there will no longer be a company in which sustainability will not play an essential role. At the moment companies are talking about their carbon footprint and take steps to implement changes, such as off-setting. To invest in offset projects like tree planting in order to compensate for emissions, leaves a good impression, but it also shows that most organizations still operate business as usual. In the long run, strategies to ‘pay off’ emissions will not be a solution. At the moment the need for real and transformative sustainability is more acute than ever and means to reduce emissions exactly where they occur. The pressure to act comes from several sides: There are ecological and social pressures, that translate to a verifiable demand for sustainability of regulators, customers and investors alike. This is why a company’s failure to respond will also put their business at risk.
Automation and technology are essential to meet the expectations of stakeholders now and they also will be an integral part of a company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint in the future.