Davos Agenda

One key mindset shift is driving  global innovation for the planet

Digital sensor and analytics technologies as well as artificial intelligence are helping to make the University of Birmingham Edgbaston and Dubai campuses into the world’s smartest global campuses and a living lab for data, innovation and connectivity.

Digital sensor and analytics technologies as well as artificial intelligence are helping to make the University of Birmingham Edgbaston and Dubai campuses into the world’s smartest global campuses and a living lab for data, innovation and connectivity. Image: Emma Gossett/Unsplash

Judith Wiese
Chief People and Sustainability Officer; Member of the Managing Board, Siemens
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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • Ecosystem-based approaches yield the broad-scale success we need.
  • Companies have the opportunity to be market leaders in the race to net zero.
  • Many carbon neutral innovations exist. Leaders must apply a selfless system-first mindset to quickly tackle energy and resource efficiency.

We all know the challenges the world is facing, and I believe the current situation reinforces our responsibility to stand up and act, to match the ambitious targets we have set ourselves with immediate action, and to clear pathways for others to follow.

The overarching goal remains to create a more sustainable and livable planet for 8 billion – predicted to soon be 10 billion – people, and that requires coordinated efforts from everyone – individuals, companies, governing bodies, and governments alike. While no one group is too small to contribute, large companies such as Siemens are certainly in a prime position to create a significant impact across our respective value chains and act as multipliers to turbo-charge sustainable development on a global scale.


What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Ecosystem not Ego-system

For this to be successful, we need to collaborate at a selfless level – leave behind the ego-system in favor of integrated ecosystems. This means forging partnerships with suppliers, partners, and customers, and embracing every facet of collaboration to multiply our impact to reach a net-zero world.

Let’s be honest. We know what needs to be done. At a minimum, we need to save energy, electrify energy consumption, and integrate renewables while weaning ourselves off fossil fuels. Harnessing the full potential of digitalisation and automation, for instance, would result in up to 40 percent of carbon emissions savings, improving energy efficiency by 40 percent and resource efficiency by 50 percent.

Harnessing the full potential of digitalisation and automation can improve energy and resource efficiency.
Harnessing the full potential of digitalisation and automation can improve energy and resource efficiency. Image: Siemens

Companies such as Siemens are undertaking taking a closer look a 360-degree view of sustainability, through approaches such as our DEGREE framework. The six elements of DEGREE – Decarbonisation, Ethics, Governance, Resource efficiency, Equity, and Employability – represent the key areas in which we want to act to create a better tomorrow for everyone. Sustainability leadership starts with us – our values, efforts, and achievements because we, and other businesses, have an obligation to lead by example.

It starts with us

Companies can take the active decision to go above and beyond the minimum requirements set out by the Paris Agreement. They can set a precedent through their own business models. That’s why we recently announced that we are ramping up our ambitions on the way to being net-zero by 2030 and will reduce our physical carbon emissions in our own operations by 90% by that date.

We take pride in applying our own technologies internally first. Not only does this approach help us to practice what we preach, but it also gives us valuable experience in the decarbonisation of industry operations which we gladly share with our partners.

A case in point for our internal application is our Congleton factory in the UK, which recently turned carbon neutral eight years ahead of target with a combination of on-site renewable energy generation, a smart building management system and energy-saving building improvements, and on-site EV-charging solution. Meanwhile, in China, our Nanjing Digital Native Factory used digital twin technology for complete digital planning, resulting in 20 percent higher productivity.

These initiatives demonstrate the real-world impact that digital solutions can have in sustainability transformation. We care about improved performance in production because it results in noticeable energy savings and raw material consumption, reduction of waste and water consumption, and lower carbon emissions. We are keen on collecting data points and simulating the real-world because it allows us to create a holistic picture along the whole value chain.

For a better tomorrow

While decarbonisation starts at our doorstep, turning the tide on the climate crisis requires a collaborative and holistic approach. With our technology, Siemens aims to transform the backbone of the economy – the energy, industry, infrastructure, and transportation sectors – while creating value for all stakeholders.

One of the most exciting aspects of our decarbonisation journey is being inspired by and a source of inspiration for our partners, suppliers, and customers in our collaborative ecosystems to do more. In fiscal year 2022 alone, we can report 150m tons of CO2 customer avoided emissions – meaning with the help of our products and solutions, our customers can achieve significant progress in their own sustainability efforts.

For example:

  • Digitalisation of buildings is a way to better utilise energy and use fewer resources. The University of Birmingham is currently designing the world’s smartest decarbonised campuses in Edgbaston and Dubai as part of its 2035 net-zero pledge. Combining digital sensor and analytics technologies, artificial intelligence, decentralised energy generation and storage, renewable energy and concepts, Siemens identifies an example of the optimal pathway to net-zero.
  • Vertical farming is an innovative, rapidly growing market that addresses feeding the increasing world population adequately and close to home. 80 Acres Farms is a unique, pesticide-free, large-scale indoor vertical growing farm using digitalisation and automation to produce more with less. The company has understood the power of Glocalisation – the practice of utilising local suppliers and reskilling local work forces and empowering local communities.
  • The increased adoption of new mobility such as electric vehicles (EV) supports decarbonisation efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Electrify America, the largest, open, ultra-fast public charging network in North America, is aiming to double its charging infrastructure by 2026. This is why Siemens Financial Services has invested a triple-digit million US$ amount to boost EV adoption across the US and Canada.

We are taking the first steps towards fundamentally transforming the backbone of our world’s economy. It is important to be a strong leader in the sustainability transformation and challenge others to join in. Together, we can make a difference. The journey won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. I cannot help but feel hopeful.

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