How Vattenfall will reach net-zero by 2040.
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The climate emergency
The climate emergency is one of the greatest challenges of our time. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events and their significant impact on people, the environment, and economies underline the urgency and the need to act.
In order to prevent the worst impacts, we need to stay within the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C global warming target. The latest climate science shows that we are dangerously close to breaching multiple tipping points, but there is still a window of opportunity.
Deep cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are needed, nearly halving them before 2030 and achieving net-zero before 2050*. That scale of reduction can only be achieved if the world takes collective action now. To reach net-zero, all sectors of society need to do their part – governments, industries, companies, individuals.
* The IPCC sixth assessment report
Phasing out fossil fuels and increasing access to fossil free energy will be critical. Greater rollout of fossil free electrification across areas such as transport, heating, buildings and industrial processes is key – and at the same time provides opportunities for sustainable economic growth without harming the planet.
Vattenfall’s commitment to play our full part
Vattenfall is taking action today and is committed to reducing emissions. Our targets equate to roughly a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030 and an over 90% reduction in emissions by 2040 (compared to base year 2017), and to also be net-zero in 2040.
These reduction targets not only include Vattenfall’s own heat and power production, but also all upstream and downstream emissions, for example those in supply chains linked to new fossil-free power production. It also includes emissions from supplying natural gas to private and business customers.
Net-zero means at least ~90% reduction until 2040
Reducing scope 1 + 2 CO2e intensity to 9 g/kWh (over 90% reduction).
Reducing absolute scope 3 emissions by 90% or more.
Neutralising the remaining emissions with carbon removals.
Guided by climate science
The targets set on the road to net-zero are guided by climate science. Vattenfall’s targets have been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) as being fully in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Science Based Target initiative (SBTi)
The SBTi is an independent global body set up by organisations including the CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The SBTi uses climate science to determine by how much emissions need to be reduced, and at what speed, to keep global temperatures below tipping point boundaries. Their extensive research on the latest climate science provides a corporate standard in establishing targets based on different sectors.
"SBTi provides a crucial standard for reporting on net-zero, ensuring transparency and accountability in our efforts. By adhering to SBTi guidelines, we can confidently communicate our progress towards net-zero emissions, offering stakeholders a clear and reliable framework to assess our performance. We also encourage those we work with across the value chain and in the wider sector to join us in making a real contribution to climate action." – Annika Ramsköld, Head of Sustainability, Vattenfall
Vattenfall is among the first European energy companies to have its net-zero targets certified by the SBTi. The 1.5°C aligned target Vattenfall has set is currently the most ambitious designation available through the SBTi process.
What the different emission scopes mean
Greenhouse gas emissions are grouped into three different scopes depending on how they relate to a company's activities. We are taking action today to reduce our emissions.
- Scope 1: Direct emissions from assets Vattenfall owns or operates such as power plants and vehicles.
- Scope 2: Indirect emissions from purchased energy that Vattenfall uses in own operations.
- Scope 3: Indirect emissions, for example emissions produced by customers using Vattenfall's products (e.g. fossil gas) or emissions from Vattenfall's supply chains.
Source: Greenhouse Gas Protocol
Net-zero in numbers
In line with the commitment to achieve net-zero GHG emissions across our value chain, Vattenfall has set near-term (2030) and long-term (2040) targets for progress across the different scopes.
Achieving net-zero means that as well as following the SBTi 1.5°C requirements for significant emissions reductions of over 90%, we will also neutralise any remaining emissions. That means the net contribution to the global CO2 budget will be zero.
Vattenfall's targets on the road to net-zero
Scope 1 and 2
We commit to reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 77% per kWh by 2030 and 93.5% per kWh by 2040 from a 2017 base year.
Scope 1 and scope 3, all sold electricity
We commit to reduce scope 1 and 3 GHG emissions from all sold electricity by 77% per kWh by 2030, and 94% per kWh by 2040 from a 2017 base year.*
*The target boundary includes land-related emissions and removals from bioenergy feedstocks.
By setting a separate target for emissions from all sold electricity we will effectively measure our progress in decarbonising the electricity we sell to our customers.
Scope 3.11, use of sold products
We commit to reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emissions from use of sold products 54.6% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 from a 2017 base year. For Vattenfall, this is mostly emissions from use of natural gas sold to private or business customers for heating.
All remaining scope 3
We commit to reduce all other absolute scope 3 GHG emissions 90% by 2040. The main contributors to the remaining emissions in scope 3 is linked to greenhouse gas emissions in supply chains linked to fuel sourcing and production of the materials used for investments. It also includes emissions such as emissions linked to transports and business travel.
This includes emissions across our supply chain.
Our approach to achieving our targets
For Vattenfall, the majority of the Scope 1 and 2 emissions are related to the use of fossil fuels in district heating. Here we have a transition plan where we will replace fossil fuels with a variety of future oriented solutions and phase out coal by 2030 at the latest.
A significant proportion of our emissions under Scope 3 is based on natural gas sold to customers (Scope 3.11: sold products & goods). Other emissions include those accounted for by suppliers, business travel, and waste generated by operations and transportation.
Achieving net-zero for Scope 1 and 2 will require a twin-track approach, rapidly moving away from energy production based on fossil fuels while at the same time increasing use of fossil-free sources for generating electricity and heat.
Phasing out coal-fired combined heat and power generation by 2030 is a key part of this. We have already achieved this milestone in the Netherlands and will stop using coal in Germany by 2030 at the latest. Exposure to fossil gas will be reduced to a minimum by expanding use of a variety of low CO2 emitting technologies such as geo- and aqua-thermal heat sources, power-to-heat solutions and seasonal storage options. In parallel, we are expanding our partnerships in order to integrate a higher share of third party excess heat infeed (TPI). Any remaining required gas asset will be fit to be powered by fossil-free hydrogen or biogas.
Vattenfall’s electricity production from wind and solar is growing strongly. Hydro and nuclear will also continue to play an important role in the energy transition by enabling the electrification of society with fossil-free power.
Further development of solutions such as pumped hydro, batteries, and storage solutions will enable more renewable capacity and are needed for a more flexible energy system.
Enabling a fossil-free society
Scope 3 emissions are widely regarded as being the most challenging to tackle as many categories are not directly associated with the company. However, by setting Scope 3 targets, Vattenfall’s climate actions can have a much wider impact and will unlock new innovations and collaborations in the full value chain.
A key step will be to transition customers away from natural gas to alternative ways of heating their homes and businesses and to power industrial processes (this is covered by Scope 3.11 which relates to use of the natural gas sold). The approach will focus on three key solutions:
- Increasing the availability and choice of heat pumps to help replace traditional gas boilers.
- Use of biogas, which is produced from biomass or organic waste, such as plant material and agricultural waste, will also have an important role to play. As well as expanding sales to customers, Vattenfall will look at contributing to ensure sufficient biogas capacity is available across the markets.
- Expansion of heat networks, which will enable more homes and businesses to access low carbon heat.
In addition, our work with consumers to help them benefit from energy efficiency measures will cut emissions by reducing consumption of both gas and electricity.
Vattenfall's business and private customers in Sweden have long benefitted from 100% fossil-free electricity, and they were joined by consumers in the Netherlands in 2022. In Finland, all private and small business customers have been using fossil-free electricity since 2021. In Germany, the aim is for all customers to be supplied with fossil-free electricity by 2030, and for businesses in the Netherlands by 2035 at the latest. This will reduce emissions from sold electricity (under Scope 3.3D).
Influence across the value chain
"Through measures such as integrating sustainability requirements in large tenders, we can use our buying power to accelerate progress towards fossil-free value chains." – Annika Ramsköld, Head of Sustainability, Vattenfall
To make progress on targets on reduction of Scope 3 emissions, which include supply chain emissions, we are using a number of complementary strategies. These include actively engaging with suppliers and incorporating sustainability requirements into tenders.
We are also playing an active role in a number of global initiatives aimed at driving meaningful reductions in emissions across key sectors.
For example, Vattenfall is a founding member of the First Movers Coalition – launched at COP26 in Glasgow – which committed to setting a number of requirements for suppliers that will significantly reduce the carbon footprint across key materials and services.
We have committed to:
- Requiring our suppliers to use “breakthrough steel” which will enable the company to have at least 10% of the steel volumes procured annually by 2030 being breakthrough steel, e.g., Hybrit fossil free steel.
- Requiring our trucking service providers to meet the requirements of at least 30% of their heavy-duty and 100% of their medium-duty truck purchases being zero-emission trucks by 2030.
- Requiring airlines and air transport providers to replace at least 5% of conventional jet fuel demand with SAF (Sustainable Airline Fuels), and/or use zero-carbon emitting propulsion technologies by 2030.
As part of the SteelZero initiative, we are further minimising the carbon footprint of wind turbines and has committed to an interim target of using 50% low emission steel by 2030, on a journey to sourcing 100% net-zero steel by 2040.