Yin Zheng of Schneider Electric: carbon reduction of enterprises without management is unsustainable

It has been more than a year since China set the goal of “double carbon”. At present, the “1 + n” policy system framework has taken shape. As a long-term national strategy, “double carbon” is not only an energy issue and environmental issue, but also an economic issue and long-term social development issue.
Among them, the relevant policies clearly mention “building a green benchmarking enterprise and improving the management and service mechanism of all links”. As the backbone of promoting economic and social development, enterprises are the key subjects to achieve the goal of “double carbon”. After realizing that sustainable development has changed from optional topics to mandatory topics, enterprises are facing a new challenge, that is, how to turn the “double carbon” goal into the sustainable practice of enterprises, rather than just staying at the slogan level.

“If enterprises want to become carbon reduction activists, the key to success or failure lies in management.” Yin Zheng, global executive vice president of Schneider Electric and President of China, said. “First of all, enterprises should realize that carbon reduction is not a matter of a specific time point, but a process of continuous improvement and development. Carbon neutralization in 2060 is not the end point, and they should continue to move towards zero carbon. At the same time, carbon reduction is not a matter of a single node, which is related to all aspects of the whole enterprise operation system. That is to say, enterprise carbon reduction needs a long time Time and system wide promotion, which requires the escort of management and culture. “
Many enterprises lack “sustainable development management”
Facing the macro proposition of promoting sustainable development from carbon reduction, many Chinese enterprises still have insufficient understanding of the relationship between sustainable development and operation and management. According to the Research Report on the practice of sustainable development goals of Chinese enterprises previously carried out by the United Nations Development Programme, nearly 90% of Chinese enterprises say they understand carbon neutrality and other sustainable development goals, but they are unable to clarify the relationship between these key goals and enterprise development. Most enterprises do not know how to integrate sustainable development into the management system. Therefore, there is often a deviation between sustainable development goals and enterprise business goals.
According to Chen Chunhua, Professor of the National Development Research Institute of Peking University, in the past 30 years, due to the improvement of the external environment and their own ability, growth has become an inertia, so that enterprise managers equate growth with sustainability and have not laid the foundation for real sustainable development. Some enterprises understand sustainable development as doing public welfare and increasing costs, and believe that there is “one ebb and flow” between economic benefits and sustainable development.
Moreover, some enterprises have a one-sided understanding of sustainable management and believe that sustainable development mainly refers to pollution prevention and control. As long as the pollution does not exceed the standard, everything will be fine. Qian Xiaojun, director of the green economy and sustainable development research center of Tsinghua University, pointed out that at present, the attitude of most Chinese enterprises towards corporate social responsibility and sustainable development such as low-carbon and environmental protection is still in the initial stage of “passive compliance”. However, under the “double carbon” goal, green and low-carbon transformation can no longer only be used as a part of enterprise reputation building or compliance, but should be deeply integrated into the main business of the enterprise.
“Sustainable development is a long-distance race without an end. We can’t treat our head and feet with pain. Taking carbon reduction as an example, before quickly launching various carbon reduction projects, enterprises first need to build a complete top-level plan for sustainable development, formulate a comprehensive management system and form a strong implementation starting point, which are testing the long-term vision and management wisdom of the management.” Yin Zheng said.
How to ensure the effectiveness of enterprise sustainable development management mechanism? Qian Xiaojun believes that it is necessary to integrate sustainable development into the main business, let enterprises form a consensus on sustainable development, and take the initiative to achieve win-win economic and social benefits through effective management mechanism and practice. At the same time, we should build an open ecosystem to benefit our partners, not limited to our own links, and promote the joint transformation of upstream and downstream partners in the ecological chain to low-carbon.
The core of sustainable development management lies in cultural construction
As a zero carbon pioneer integrating knowledge and practice, Schneider Electric has been recognized for its excellent performance in the field of sustainable development. In February this year, Schneider Electric was listed as the “world’s most admired company in 2022″ by Fortune magazine for the fifth consecutive year. Prior to this, Schneider Electric has been selected into the “top 100 global sustainable development enterprises” list of enterprise Jazz for 11 consecutive years, and has won a number of global authoritative ESG ratings, including carbon emission Disclosure Project (CDP), “Dow Jones sustainable development world index” and so on.
The reason for this achievement is inseparable from Schneider Electric’s long-term practice of sustainable and systematic sustainable management.
“The core of our sustainable management lies in cultural construction.” Yin Zheng said. “Only when all employees work together can they obtain lasting vitality.” Schneider Electric’s employee value proposition is inclusiveness, meaning and empowerment, in which “meaning” is to make their work more social value and be proud of practicing sustainable development.
Among them, unified cognition is the first step, that is, idea first. Schneider Electric believes that whether an enterprise is successful or not is no longer limited to scale and profitability, but whether its business activities have a positive social impact and protect the living environment of future generations. An enterprise that can balance the two and achieve win-win is a truly successful enterprise. Schneider Electric began to explore the relationship between sustainable development and enterprise development as early as the beginning of 2000. In 2005, Schneider Electric established a sustainable development evaluation system to regularly measure the performance of sustainable development in a quantitative way.

Set sustainable goals on the basis of unified cognition. Schneider Electric sets its own sustainable development goals based on the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, which are changed every three or five years. By setting higher goals, Schneider Electric continues to improve and surpass itself. With regard to carbon reduction, Schneider Electric promised in 2019 to achieve carbon neutrality at its own operation level by 2025; Achieve net zero carbon emission at the company’s operation level by 2030; By 2050, achieve net zero carbon emissions at the supply chain operation level.
In order to ensure the realization of objectives, a management system is established and the objectives are decomposed layer by layer. As early as 2014, Schneider Electric established a special human resources and Corporate Social Responsibility Committee to promote the integration of sustainable development goals into corporate governance and make sustainability the code of conduct of every employee. Indicators based on sustainable development goals are linked to the performance of employees and executives. At the same time, Schneider Electric further quantifies various indicators, puts forward specific action plans, decomposes them layer by layer and implements them to all departments around the world, and carries out regular evaluation.
Integrate goals into the business, promote business operation and practice sustainable development at the same time. “Schneider Electric believes that every link of enterprise operation has room for carbon reduction and opportunities to promote sustainable development.” Yin Zheng said. The sustainability of Schneider Electric starts from design and establishes a green full life cycle operation management mechanism of “design procurement production delivery”. It is precisely because of the integration of sustainability objectives into business operation that the investment to ensure sustainability can be rewarded, resulting in economic benefits, which is the driving force for enterprises to continuously promote sustainability.
In order to promote the formation of self drive for sustainable development, we will continue to promote cultural construction. Yin Zheng introduced that Schneider Electric’s corporate culture construction focuses on the three main dimensions of “employee health and safety, climate change and efficient use of resources”. It not only provides long-term training for all employees, but also encourages employees to carry out various sustainable related innovations. In Schneider Electric Xiamen factory, in order to solve the wastewater problem of electroplating production line, employees spontaneously studied, designed and built a set of wastewater recovery and treatment system. The production wastewater originally containing toxic chemicals can be returned to the production line for continuous use after treatment, realizing the recycling of 93% of industrial wastewater, greatly saving water resources and reducing environmental risks.

“Innovation from front-line employees is often closest to the production and operation needs, which can not only effectively promote the sustainable development process of the company, but also give employees a sense of meaning and pride, further strengthen the corporate culture of sustainable development, and finally form a positive cycle.” Yin Zheng said. Since 2017, Schneider Electric’s factories in China have reduced carbon emissions by more than 80%.
Open sustainable management
In the face of the challenges brought by carbon neutralization, the ability to manage sustainable development determines the survival of each enterprise, and carbon reduction also requires the joint efforts of the whole society. In 2020, Schneider Electric proposed to achieve carbon neutrality in the end-to-end supply chain by 2040. In order to further promote carbon reduction in the supply chain, Schneider Electric has launched the supplier “zero carbon plan” in 2021 to help the world’s top 1000 suppliers achieve 50% carbon reduction in operation by 2025.

It is better to teach people to fish than to teach people to fish. Schneider Electric also launched sustainable development consulting services in 2021. While helping customers build a carbon reduction roadmap, it also helped customers build a systematic management mechanism, from top-level strategic planning to specific practice. It is worth mentioning that at present, Schneider Electric’s green revenue has accounted for more than 70% of the global total revenue, which means that the deep integration of sustainable concept and business development has won high favor in the market and produced considerable economic benefits.
“In the ‘double carbon’ era, the operation logic of enterprises has changed greatly.” Yin Zheng said, “we should not only succeed in business, but also practice ESG in all aspects, and drive the whole ecosystem towards sustainability. Only in this way can we become an influential enterprise in the industry.”

Post time: Mar-03-2022