Conti on climate change: Thousands of jobs depend on every political decision
Continental is calling for politicians in its homeland to develop a more targeted concept for achieving carbon neutrality, and warns that now is the time to identify new employment opportunities brought about by climate transformation. Without a targeted concept and greater momentum, the company fears the German government’s determination to reach self-imposed climate targets by 2045 will result in serious disruption.
The tyre maker and automotive technology provider stresses that policymakers must create the conditions needed for a sustainable transformation at all levels. “The effects of climate change are dramatic and are leading to tectonic shifts in the economy with far-reaching social consequences. Thousands of jobs and billions of euros in added value for industry depend on every political decision,” states Dr Ariane Reinhart, Continental Executive Board member for Human Relations and Sustainability.
“We can transform, but we cannot have any discontinuity. Creating the necessary conditions for climate protection means not only accelerating the transformation, but also preventing large-scale unemployment,” Reinhart continues, adding that it’s therefore crucial to identify new employment opportunities brought about by the climate transformation: “We must help employees transition from one type of work to another and offer them new prospects through targeted training programmes.”
Preventing an exodus from Germany
One particular point of concern for Continental is the steeply rising energy prices in Germany, driven in part by CO2 taxes introduced at the start of 2021 and scheduled to increase over the coming years. It worries that rising energy costs may result in a corporate “exodus” from the country.
“High energy prices create a particularly significant risk of an exodus, which would exacerbate the potential social impact,” says Reinhart. Although acknowledging the inevitability that manufacturing sustainable products will lead to higher prices, at least temporarily, she believes one means of cushioning the financial burden for companies would be by lowering VAT rates for products that are manufactured in a certifiably sustainable manner. “At the same time, all countries must make a serious effort to pursue an effective climate policy.”
Carbon neutral production by 2040
Continental switched its global electricity supply for its own production to completely renewable sources in 2020 and aims for all its in-house production to be carbon-neutral by 2040. By 2050, at the latest, the company aims to achieve complete carbon neutrality along its entire value chain – together with its partners and at the respective speeds of its customers, industries and markets.