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Juerg Burkhalter: We’re committed to achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2040

Juerg Burkhalter – General Manager – Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria for Capital.bg

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1.       How achievable is the NetZero goal that Coca-Cola HBC has set for 2040 and what would be the biggest challenge for it?

Net Zero Emissions by 2040 is an ambitious but achievable goal for us and this announcement is the ultimate destination of a journey that we have started many years ago – we have reduced our direct emissions by half in the last decade; we were one of the first companies to commit to and deliver science-based targets; our journey to 2030 is already endorsed and approved on the 1.5 degree pathway.  On top of that, earlier this year Coca-Cola HBC was rated the world’s most sustainable beverage company by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the 5th time in the last 7 years, achieving its highest ever score. So, our biggest challenge would be to once again as leaders set the example for other companies and show them that such goals are achievable and yes, they take a lot of effort, but are achievable. Moreover, they are necessary to ensure the well-being of our planet and each and everyone of us. We are confident of our success and we will ensure the delivery of the target through the combination of an action based plan, investment, our partnership approach with suppliers and our track record of delivery.

2.       Can you share some of the ESG models for CO2 emission reduction that you have already introduced in Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria?

We’ve done a lot and we fully realize our responsibility to continue accelerating our efforts in every aspect our company operates – from the offices, through the production plants, to the market. In Bulgaria we’re using 62% renewable energy aiming to achieve 100% by 2025. We’re also extending our efforts on the market, supporting our customers and their progress in the area -  48% of our coolers on the market are energy efficient. This year we’ve also introduced a Green Fleet program at the company in the country in support of our commitment to reduce CO2 emission with 53% vs. 2017. To build on that, in our production plants we’re constantly working on improving energy consumption.

3.       How can the company influence its suppliers to also follow NetZero goals and follow ESG plans?

Our suppliers are an integral part of this NetZero plan. Together with them we are continuously monitoring the technological developments and foster innovative solutions that can provide critical support in meeting our net zero commitments – like – renewable electricity, energy efficiency, coolers, new technologies for the packaging, low carbon packaging etc.  Our biggest asset in getting them on board is our partnership approach that we have always applied in the company. Our business is very complex and multidimensional and good partnership is the solid ground for it – throughout the years we’ve maintained a great relationship based on trust and business prosperity, so I am confident that we will meet nothing but support from our suppliers on this – they have a key role in eliminating the 90% of our carbon footprint that results from third parties. 

4.       Do you think that the European Green Deal and the Fit to 55 initiative are achievable and would lead to the desired effect?

Our governments, our leaders have the responsibility to guide us and set an example for us towards a better future and the good condition of our planet. I welcome each and every effort, action and thought that lead us in this direction. But make no mistake, this is a shared responsibility – we can’t rely on the Green Deal solely, for example, to get us to the desired effect. Each and everyone of us as citizens, as businesses have to make as much as possible in order to make this happen. And following that plan outlined by our political leaders and building on it is a good start.

5.       In your opinion, what is the key technological decision for decarbonizing the economy?

Decarbonization targets will only be achieved through technological innovations backing them up and accelerating this journey. And this is exactly where our role as a developed world, as developed businesses and organizations is - to deliver these innovations.  Society and governments also have their fair share in this process – society to ask for these innovations, plans and actions and thus drive them further and governments to support them. Decarbonized economy is really becoming more and more of a business factor, a necessity for organizations to thrive, so it’s also important to have business model and future revenue pools that attract industry investments.  Overall, everyone has a key role in this and each and everyone of us as citizens has a responsibility to drive these processes where it’s within our powers.