The Paris Agreement, the European Green Deal, Germany’s stricter Climate Action Law of June 2021: the goals are for Europe to be climate-neutral by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45% of 1990 levels by 2030. Germany is supporting the objective of climate neutrality by 2050 – but wants to go even further by slashing emissions of greenhouse gases to 35% of 1990 levels by 2030. These are formidable challenges. Above all for companies, and especially those engaged in manufacturing. How can it be accomplished? In this interview, Lisa Reethen and Philipp Günther of Bosch Climate Solutions (BCS) shed light on the impending transformation and how Bosch can help enterprises become climate-neutral.
Saving energy and slashing CO2 emissions: many companies want to make progress toward eliminating their greenhouse gas emissions, but are concerned about the associated implementation hurdles and high costs. What is your reply to them?
Lisa Reethen: That doing nothing will definitely cost them more. For one thing, energy prices are rising – so companies that neglect improving their energy efficiency will face higher costs. For another, their customers and other stakeholders are calling more and more loudly for them to achieve a acceptable climate footprint. They run the risk of being passed over as suppliers unless they get their act together. So now it’s really no longer about whether or not companies should take action, but about choosing the best approach and implementing the right measures. We at BCS can help them find the answers they need.
Philipp Günther: It’s unfortunate but true that climate protection comes with a price tag. Yet it’s possible and worthwhile to make changes. This much is clear: those who invest now will enjoy greater competitiveness over the long term while meeting their responsibilities at the same time.
What expertise and experience do you draw on for advising customers?
Lisa Reethen: We derive our knowledge from our own corporate group. In 2020 Bosch became the world’s first large industrial company to achieve carbon neutrality across all of its sites, of which there are 400. We possess expertise across multiple industries and are familiar with the climate protection requirements in individual countries. Our message is that if a manufacturing enterprise like Bosch can become carbon-neutral, any company can.
Philipp Günther: Our own climate protection activities have piqued the curiosity of many other companies, prompting them to ask how is Bosch doing it. We noticed that there’s huge need for information. So now we’re systematically offering our experience and knowledge to others. As an independent consulting division within our corporate group, BCS makes Bosch’s global know-how available in the market for other companies to take advantage of.
How exactly do you proceed?
Lisa Reethen: The first step is to work with the client to draw up a climate protection master plan, which takes four to six weeks. We begin by analyzing their current situation in terms of energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Then we take this as the basis for identifying opportunities to reduce these and develop various implementation scenarios that are precisely tailored to the company. Bosch itself took a four-prong approach to achieving climate neutrality, which we also apply to our clients. Its components are: taking steps to increase energy efficiency, using renewable energy sources, switching to green power, and implementing measures to compensate for unavoidable carbon emissions. Exactly how each of these four components is leveraged naturally varies from company to company.
Philipp Günther: It's important to find the answers to these questions: which measures will have the biggest effect, and what should the focus be? In what time what can be achieved at what cost? The client receives an analysis from us that precisely visualizes everything. We create transparency, which in turn generates insights. Many of our clients are amazed, saying things like “wow, that wasn’t clear to us, we’d never looked at it like that before!” After experiencing this “aha effect”, the company knows what needs to be done – and makes the right decisions.
Lisa Reethen: Some derive huge benefits simply from switching to electric vehicles or green electricity, while others may need to optimize complex production processes. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution; every case is different. The path a client takes will vary greatly depending on how much they can afford to invest and how much time and personnel they are able to devote to the project. But in every case, they get a detailed concept from us for proceeding.
Does Bosch then also help them implement the switch?
Philipp Günther: If a client wishes, we can also provide hands-on support. Bosch itself has completed more than a thousand individual energy efficiency projects at its own facilities to achieve carbon neutrality. So we draw on considerable expertise and experience in this field. We also have a huge catalog of solutions and services at our fingertips for everything from sustainable energy supply solutions and all the way to for efficiently controlling HVAC and lighting systems.
Lisa Reethen: We also support clients in monitoring activities and deriving metrics to gage the impact of their climate protection activities. This is helpful for planning additional measures and presenting them internally and externally.
How does your team make sure that customers feel well-advised and are 100% satisfied?
Lisa Reethen: We’re an agile team whose members contribute their personal experience across a wide spectrum of strategic and operational functions. It greatly helps that we don’t just interact with our clients as consultants.
Philipp Günther: Our work is a blend of approaches. On-site meetings and plant inspections are an indispensable part of our projects. But we also hold online meetings with our clients and experts from our own corporate group. Our approach is digital and data-based, which resonates with our clients. Around 60% of them come back after the first project and express interest in receiving long-term support from us.
Which clients are already relying on the expertise of BCS to become carbon-neutral?
Philipp Günther: For example, over the last two years we’re been supporting hansgrohe, a sanitary fittings manufacturer, for implementing its “go green” process. Our references also include the high-tech company Trumpf; Mahle, which supplies automotive components; and the Boehringer Ingelheim pharmaceuticals group. We currently have about 20 customers in our portfolio, ranging from midsized manufacturers to industrial giants – we make our expertise available to everyone who wants it.
Are there any particular challenges that you often encounter?
Philipp Günther: The keyword here is awareness. It’s vital to cultivate awareness at a company that climate protection is good and the right thing to do. It’s about deeply anchoring this topic in a company: in its strategy and in its corporate values. Also important is recognition of the fact that it’s a top-down task: management has to drive this evolution. And a holistic approach is essential. There’s no point in tinkering with a single aspect; you have to look at how all of the factors interact and coordinate all of the measures.
Lisa Reethen: Clients also need to grasp it as a transformational process. Achieving climate neutrality is a step-by-step process. It’s also a journey, and you have to get as many people in the company as possible on board. We also try to get the point across that the goals of doing business and helping the environment aren’t mutually exclusive. The opposite is true: steps to protect the environment can also make good business sense. All of these things are what makes our work so exciting.
Your mission is very meaningful and forward-looking. What else inspires you about it?
Lisa Reethen: Embarking on this process of change with the customer is always incredibly dynamic, no matter how far along a company already is. Some of them began implementing measures long ago and have already made significant progress, and now want to take them to the next level. Others are just beginning and need to be taken by the hand and led. In every case, it’s fascinating to be involved. It’s such a worthwhile task.
Philipp Günther: It’s also great to share information and ideas. We learn something new every time that we interact with customers. What could be better than this? We also keep evolving, improving, and learning with every new project we carry out for BCS.
After completing a bachelor of arts degree in international business administration, Lisa Reethen went to work for IBM in 2012. There she was initially active in sales, working with cloud startups and companies of the electronics, automotive, and manufacturing industries. There Reethen bolstered her IT expertise, enabling her to join IBM’s cybersecurity team in 2017. In 2021 she then switched to the Bosch Group as a senior partner at Bosch Climate Solutions, taking full management responsibility for this unit at the start of 2022. Reethen is concurrently completing a master’s degree in sustainability and future trends and is a great fan of mentoring, networking, and social media.
Philipp Günther studied, among other things, economics and political sciences with a focus on Latin America. After gaining initial experience at Deutsche Bank, DaimlerChrysler and other companies, he worked in industrial market research and international sales at a midsized company before joining Bosch in 2011. He spent a total of eight years at Bosch companies outside Germany, including four years at Bosch Termotecnologia in Brazil. He currently holds the position of senior consultant at Bosch Climate Solutions, applying his broad expertise in business development, renewable energy sources, and sustainability to advise external clients on climate protection and reducing CO2 emissions.