ZNU goes Zero
ZNU Statement on the STERN Article from April 29, 2021
Dear Sir or Madam,
with great regret we have taken note of the STERN article (29th of April, 2021) about Plant-for-the-Planet, https://www.stern.de/-plant-for-the-planet---spendengelder-versenkt--zweifel-an-stiftung-wachsen-30501150.html.
In a decided form it is presented that the Plant-for-the-Planet approach could be a dubious approach in summary. The article ends with: "Until today, they (the PWC assessors) have not yet started their work."
The STERN article and in particular this last sentence aims at the transparency offensive demanded for months by the ZNU, which must be carried out by Plant-for-the-Planet and is due to the ZEIT article (16.12.2020) now pressing more than ever. The contents of these transparency activities are not least the preparation of a certificate for the verification of the use of funds and planting protocols by an independent auditor (PwC) as well as the establishment of corresponding scientific committees for the verification of statements, e.g. on the CO2 sequestration capacity of trees or realistic growth rates of planted trees. So far, Plant-for-the-Planet has not extensively complied with the ZNU demands despite multiple follow-ups.
We at the ZNU have decided to suspend our relationship with Plant-for-the-Planet with immediate effect until the report of the auditing company (PwC) is made available to us. However, we explicitly reserve the right to terminate the relationship completely. We have also recommended this procedure to the ZNU partner companies involved.
In principle, we stand for sound and credible climate protection with our 5-step ZNU goes Zero approach - as we always focus on "avoid and reduce" including green electricity and emphasize that only unavoidable CO2 emissions are to be compensated in a double procedure.
Why do we need ZNU goes Zero?
Climate change is accelerating. According to current scientific knowledge, humans are the leading cause for climate warming since the mid-20th century. The years between 2014 and 2019 were on average the hottest since the beginning of the industrialisation (Source: Statista, 2020). This development is caused by the rising CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere which have reached the highest levels ever recorded in human history. The projected climate impacts have serious ecological, social and economic consequences.
Aim of the initiative
For this reason, the ZNU – Center for Sustainable Leadership of the University of Witten/Herdecke (Faculty of Economics, Management and Society) and its partners are taking joint responsibility, demonstrating their sustainable leadership role and setting an example for other economic actors:
The ZNU would like to identify possible approaches for ZNU partners to act responsibly with regard to climate protection. During this process, the ZNU wants to work participatory and cooperatively together with partners who are genuinely committed to the goal of climate protection. By participating in ZNU goes Zero, companies simultaneously fulfil the requirements of the Allianz für Klima und Entwicklung initiative (BMZ). The ZNU has been a member of this initiative since 2019 and recommends that participants register there as well (https://allianz-entwicklung-klima.de).
The ZNU is aware of the importance of considering the entire value chain, therefore Phase I (until the end of 2022) focuses on Scope 1 and 2, and will then be incrementally expanded to include Scope 3 criteria.
More information: Commitment of the ZNU partners
With the initiative ZNU goes Zero, the ZNU and as many of its partner companies as possible have set themselves the goal of achieving carbon neutrality at their German locations by the end of 2022 at the latest. In order to make an additional contribution to stay within the carrying capacity of the earth, the partners will, alongside avoiding, reducing and achieving net carbon neutrality, use green electricity and support projects under the motto "Education, Soil and/or Trees". This initiative focuses on the corporate level, where pragmatic and immediate potentials can be realized. Cooperative climate protection along the value chain remains an essential topic that also needs to be addressed in the medium term.
How is this goal achieved and certified?
Step 1 entails the location-specific capturing of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) according to internationally recognised standards such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) - the focus lies on Scope 1 and Scope 2 (proof of current carbon footprints, e.g. also within the framework of the ZNU Standard – Driving Sustainable Change).
More information: Calculation basis and documentation of status quo
Step 2 requires that savings potentials for reduction and avoidance are to be documented in concrete terms and demonstrated by means of concrete examples. The partner company must set ambitious CO2 reduction targets and action plans, which are reviewed annually using the data collection sheet and the audit for the ZNU Standard – Driving Sustainable Change.
Support from the ZNU network
The project participants can exchange information and build synergies within the ZNU partner network through events such as working groups on the topic of climate/energy.
Step 3 demands that the companies switch to green electricity, which has been verified by green electricity certificates and quality labels. A detailed description of the ZNU criteria can be found in the ZNU guidelines "Green Electricity". The ZNU provides support in checking the relevant certificates in advance.
More information: Certificates and Neutralisation
Step 4 follows the regulations of internationally recognised standards for Net Carbon Neutrality, which are also recommended by the German Environment Agency. These include the Clean Development Mechanism of the UN (CDM), the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Gold Standard. More information on these and other standards can be found in the ZNU goes Zero guidelines "Net Climate Neutrality and CLIMATE NEUTRALITY+". The ZNU provides support in advance in checking the relevant certificates or protocols.
Step 5 leads to CLIMATE NEUTRALITY+, i.e. the commitment of the ZNU partners to go beyond Net Climate Neutrality by supporting the build-up of additional biomass and the implementation of educational programmes. This commitment is a particular feature of the ZNU goes Zero initiative. The ZNU will assess, individually for each case, which projects are to be recognised in this Step and to what extent.
Who is the ZNU – Center for Sustainable Leadership?
The application-oriented research institute in the Faculty of Economics and Society at the University Witten/Herdecke was founded in 2008 by Dr. Axel Kölle and Dr. Christian Geßner. The ZNU currently employs 15 people.
Our mission is to make sustainability tangible and to inspire people for the opportunities of sustainable business management. The focus lies on research and education, training of managers and the organisation of working groups and conferences.
The ZNU has developed and established the ZNU-Standard Driving Sustainable Change, which helps companies to become more sustainable step by step. The Standard is the only field-tested and externally certifiable standard for sustainable management that integrates all three dimensions of environment, economy and social as well as requires and promotes the development of an integrated sustainable management system.
More information: ZNU Standard – Driving Sustainable Change
To document the change towards sustainable business management and to accompany companies step by step in their transition to sustainable practices, the ZNU-Standard Driving Sustainable Change was developed in 2013. It is the only field-tested and certifiable standard for sustainable management in Germany that integrates not only the sustainable management system but also the three pillars of sustainability: environment, economy and social. The certification promotes and demands the development of an such an integrated system. The internationally applicable revised version was further developed in 2018 by taking into account the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and through a comprehensive stakeholder dialogue (including trade, manufacturers, science, NGOs and politics). Since then, many companies from the partner network and beyond have been certified according to the ZNU Standard – Driving Sustainable Change.
Further information on: www.mehrwert-nachhaltigkeit.de