29.05.2019 | Why KEPCO is in Baden learning about sustainable development goals

The Japanese learning from Axpo

By the year 2030, energy companies must also fulfil the sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Axpo is at the forefront: Christian Capello, Sustainability Manager at Axpo, has been involved in a CIGRE Network work group to develop industry best practice guidelines that can be used by all 193 United Nations Member States. This is why the Japanese energy company is visiting Axpo in Baden this week.

It's not every day that Axpo receives a visit from overseas energy colleagues. What's behind this meeting? In 2015 all 193 UN Member States – including Japan and Switzerland – adopted the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. There are 17 goals with several sub-goals at the heart of the 2030 Agenda: Sustainable Development Goals, also known as SDGs. The Japanese delegation will focus on these goals.

Policy-makers in each country are primarily responsible for realising the 17 goals. All the goals must be achieved on a national scale by the year 2030 in all the UN Member States.  However, many of the goals cannot be implemented without the involvement of businesses. As a result, the industry network "CIGRE" (see more information below) has set itself the goal of establishing best practice guidelines for the realisation of the SDGs. Axpo plays a very important role here: Sustainability Manager Christian Capello leads this energy industry work group.

CIGRE is an international organisation for information exchange among experts in the area of electrical energy transmission and supply. CIGRE stands for "Conseil International des Grands Réseaux Électriques" or "International Council for Largescale Electrical Networks". 

CIGRE's headquarters is located in Paris where it was founded in 1921 as a non-profit organisation. In the meantime, the organisation's worldwide recognition is largely owing to the high level of expertise and the quality of its results. In recent years, the CIGRE Network has grown enormously, indicating its importance. Universities, companies and other institutions can support the work of CIGRE as "corporate members".

Motoshi Tomita, Research Scientist, represents Japan's interests in Christian Capello's work group. He works at the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), a research centre similar to PSI (Paul Scherrer Institute). He has good contacts to the Japanese electricity industry including KEPCO, the Kansai Electric Power Company from Osaka. Implementing the SDGs is a political focus issue in Japan. KEPCO wants to position itself as a pioneer in implementing the SDGs and present the Japanese government with a strategy on how the SDGs can be realised. In order to present results as quickly as possible, KEPCO intends to participate in the CIGRE Network and is preparing a paper for the Paris Session 2020.

Akiko Sato, KEPCO; Motoshi Tomita, Research Scientist CRIEPI; Shintaro Yokokawa, General Manager KEPCO; Christian Capello, Sustainability Manager at Axpo in Baden.

"Thanks to CIGRE's broad international network, initiatives from various countries can be brought together," says Christian Capello. "We integrate the best approaches in our best practice recommendations."

However, at the moment the industry is at a loss and without a concept on how to address the SDGs and what new business opportunities could arise. There are country-specific differences. In Switzerland, for example, industry is not directly obligated to contribute. However, policy-makers are adapting the regulatory framework so that companies can develop in the right direction. 

Among the 17 SDGs, the following goals are particularly relevant for energy companies: 

  • SDG 7: Affordable, clean energy
  • SDG 13: Climate protection measures

The following SDGs could also be significantly impacted by the energy industry: 

  • SDG 9: Sustainable industrialisation
  • SDG 11: Sustainable cities
  • SDG 12: Sustainable consumption

The work group comprises ten representatives from grid operators, integrated utilities such as ENEL or Eskom, as well as research organisations like the American EPRI or the Japanese CRIEPI. The group will start its work at the end of May 2019. They will devote their time to the 17 goals. A major session on this topic will be held at next year's CIGRE main conference. Christian Capello and his work group will present their first results there. 

Sustainability has a long tradition at Axpo.

Axpo has not yet established a strategy on how to approach the SDGs. When the work group results are available, the respective measures will be extrapolated. Implementing the SDGs will be only one of many adaptations to embed sustainability in the corporate culture. Last year's milestones:

Achieving the EcoVadis gold standard sustainability rating.

Publication of a Sustainability Report as the only energy company in Switzerland with a G4 "Comprehensive" rating according to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard.

Introduction of a Codex for Business Partners, based on procurement guidelines from the most important international organisations.
Establishing sustainability focus topics for Axpo, summarised in areas of activity with binding goals for the upcoming four years.

Publication of the integrated annual and sustainability report as the only energy company in Switzerland with an A+ rating according to GRI.

Introduction of a Code of Conduct obligating Axpo to unconditional compliance – to the law, integrity and ethics – in its business activities.

Publication of the first corporate-wide greenhouse gas inventory according to ISO 14064.
Publication of the first Environmental Production Declaration (EPD) according to ISO 14025 for the Beznau nuclear power plant.

Publication of the first sustainability report according to GRI at level C+.

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