06.03.2024 | Net zero ambition 

Axpo’s climate strategy: ambitious and challenging in equal measure

Philipp Näf, Head of Sustainability

Both Switzerland and the EU are aiming to become climate neutral by 2050. This goal, based on the Paris Agreement, is therefore of great significance for the economy and industry as well. And it is being actively supported by Axpo as a leading player in the energy sector. But Axpo has also gone one step further by creating its own ambitious net zero targets that exceed the legal requirements. In an interview with Philipp Näf, Head of Sustainability, we find out more about Axpo’s efforts and strategy on the road to net zero.

What is Axpo’s net zero ambition about?

To achieve the goal of net zero, Axpo has set itself ambitious emission reduction targets for the years 2030, 2040 and 2050. The emissions that Axpo has direct control over are to be fully decarbonised by 2040. In the shorter term, Axpo wants to reduce emissions from its own electricity consumption and vehicle fleet to zero by 2030. The ultimate goal is for all emissions along the entire value chain to be decarbonised by 2050. Axpo is thereby going above and beyond the targets prescribed by law. 

The net zero ambition sets a clear course for us to follow as a company. At the same time, we maintain the necessary flexibility to keep on contributing to security of supply and actively supporting our customers on their own decarbonisation journeys.  

How are emissions monitored, and where is the progress reported? 

Axpo monitors its greenhouse gas emissions with the help of a Group-wide greenhouse gas inventory. Over a hundred people within the company are involved in this process. The identified emissions can be categorised into three ‘Scopes’ according to the international Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard: 

Scope 1 emissions originate from sources that an organisation owns or controls directly. 

Scope 2 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions from procured energy generated outside the company (e.g. electricity or district heating).  

Scope 3 emissions encompass all other indirect greenhouse gas emissions that are created along the company’s value chain. 

In our greenhouse gas inventory, we already report all Scope 1 and 2 emissions. We have also started reporting Scope 3 emissions, albeit only partially. We are currently improving the data basis, so that we can report Scope 3 emissions more comprehensively in the future. Up-to-date information about Axpo’s emissions can be found in the sustainability report

What challenges will Axpo encounter on the road to net zero?

The energy trilemma, which highlights the conflict between the three energy policy goals of ‘energy security’, ‘affordability’ and ‘environmental sustainability’, provides a good indication of the challenges we might face. What is desirable today from a climate perspective often conflicts with cost considerations and questions of energy availability. Dependence on fossil fuels remains high. The energy crisis last winter was an impressive reminder of this. The transformation of the energy system will be one of the key challenges for us as a society in the coming decades. In order to develop and scale up competitive alternatives to fossil fuels, our innovative strength in particular will play a key role. 

I also think that reducing Scope 3 emissions to zero in our value chain will present a challenge for us, due to the substantial reliance on other companies and political conditions. In its ‘responsible supply chain’ efforts, Axpo made an important contribution to reducing child labour risks in 2023 with its supply chain policy. In a similar way, we also need to create more transparency over the ecological footprint of products and services in our value chains and incorporate the findings in our decisions.

How is Axpo integrating its net zero ambition into its business strategy and long-term planning?

Axpo’s position as Switzerland’s leading producer of renewable energies, coupled with strong international growth in this field, are enabling us to make an active contribution to decarbonising the energy system. This has been part of our DNA for decades and is now being embedded even more firmly in the company’s strategy. 

Axpo is committed to shaping the future of energy while ensuring sustainable growth and constant innovation at the same time. This means we plan our business activities with a long-term outlook, and in a way that benefits both people and the environment. In this context, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is of paramount importance.  

In the longer term, our business model will be geared towards largely eliminating these harmful emissions. We are specifically focusing on climate-friendly energy supply and supporting our customers on their journey towards a carbon-neutral future.

Where is Axpo at today? What’s next?

An international comparison shows that the carbon emissions of our power plant portfolio are well below the European average. This suggests we are on the right track. Furthermore, emissions last year were significantly lower than in the previous year. Although this was primarily due to the lower utilisation of our thermal power plants in Italy, it is still encouraging.

Axpo’s different business areas are already making various efforts to reduce emissions. For instance, the vehicle fleet is being gradually switched to electric. Nevertheless, we are still only at the beginning of an exciting journey. The net zero ambition established last year is now being translated into specific initiatives and projects. There is a lot to be done. 

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