9th Sustainability Dialogue in Stuttgart
Lively discussions are a paramount part of the annual Sustainability Dialogue in Stuttgart. In addition to traditional workshops covering a wide range of sustainability topics, this year's event focused on elements including an improvement of urban mobility.
The evening before the Sustainability Dialogue in Stuttgart was open, helpful, but also controversial. “If we plan to meet the Paris climate goals, traffic must become cleaner,” guest speaker Peter Bakker from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development explained to the audience. A change within the traffic sector was desperately needed as the number of vehicles registered around the world would double by 2050 to 2.5 billion vehicles. However, we would only achieve this “if cities and businesses work together closely,” Bakker continued.
Olaf Scholz, Mayor of the City of Hamburg, also emphasized the significance of improving the air we breathe in his speech: “We must find solutions to improve the air quality in German cities.” However, bans, such as those currently discussed for diesel vehicles were not an option. “I consider this approach to be anti-social,” he adds. People with low income purchasing vehicles were often unable to afford vehicles with the most recent emissions technology. Scholz considers it more important to electrify public transport, taxis, and deliveries in inner cities. Thomas Weber, member of Daimler’s Board of Management responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development sees no alternative to electric mobility. He gave a sneak preview of our automotive future with the Concept EQ show car. The smart ed has been on the market for years and in spring 2017 it will be succeeded by the fourth generation of electrified smart vehicles. It will be available as a Coupé, Cabrio and four-seater vehicle.
Range of up to 300 kilometers for buses
As part of the subsequent panel discussion, Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler Buses, described the plans on electrification. He went on to explain that especially within the Bus division Daimler was already able to fall back on many years of experience – also in collaboration with the City of Hamburg – and our vehicles had already covered many millions of kilometers. By 2025, Schick envisions electric buses with a range of up to 300 kilometers – enough to master a day’s work within inner-city traffic.
Klaus Entenmann, responsible for elements including mobility services at Daimler, referred to the moovel app customers can already use today to combine several means of transport and conveniently pay using their smartphones. “The pioneer of car sharing, car2go verifiably improves urban mobility and contributes to boosting the quality of life,” Entenmann quoted from a new study by the University of Berkeley, USA. Participants of the panel discussion all agreed that only direct collaboration between politics, society, and industry will lead to improved, urban mobility.
Discussions in an open and helpful atmosphere
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche kicked off the main day of the Sustainability Dialogue. His key note focused on the required change processes within the company and the future of electric mobility. “Now is the time to fully immerse ourselves in electric mobility,” Zetsche explained. Battery costs were dropping and ranges increasing. However, he was also convinced that electric mobility would not make a breakthrough as a result of bans, but rather by sparking a passion for vehicles. Zetsche additionally emphasized that drivetrain electrification would be far from the only change within the automotive industry: connectivity, autonomous driving, and sharing models were developments that were just as important.
Renata Jungo Brüngger, responsible within the Daimler Board of Management for integrity and legal affairs, analyzed an additional aspect of sustainability in her speech: “We aim to develop a responsibility at Daimler that matches our core business and our areas of influence. We must specify this using clear objectives.”
Participants subsequently discussed elements including the air quality in cities, scenarios to measure emissions in real driving conditions, human rights, autonomous driving, data protection, and social responsibilities in different groups. Thomas Weber attaches particular importance to these discussions: “They are very helpful, straight-forward discussions. I am happy that we were able to once again discuss the questions of the future this year. This also makes us better.” Renata Jungo Brüngger announced the continuation of the Dialogue series: “I am sure we will organize a tenth Dialogue. The discussions are very valuable for the development of our commitments to sustainability.”
During the afternoon, a panel discussion chaired by the Procurement unit guided participants through the issue of human rights as part of the delivery chain using specific examples. In this process, external stakeholders, including suppliers as well as representatives of NGOs took part. The group agreed that initiatives to establish sustainable delivery chains will only be successful on the basis of joint measures.
After the game is before the game
The end of the event is when the actual work starts. The discussion results presented in the plenum provide the basis for the activities in the year ahead. It is now about following up on the numerous approaches from the workshops. The exchange with the stakeholders in procurement will also be kept up over the course of the year.