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Climate Protection Strategy and Targets

In light of the need to reduce emissions and decarbonize the economy, we pursue the vision to become a climate-positive company by 2040 by driving significant progress in our own operations and in other relevant areas of our value chain. By pursuing this goal, we will make an active and committed contribution toward climate protection.

  • Introduction
  • Three main levers
  • Our goal: Working towards becoming climate-positive 
  • Our Operations
  • Further levers along the value chain
  • CO2 reduction targets approved by “Science Based Targets initiative”

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHG) caused by humans are responsible for increased climate change and global warming. These emissions are also increasing due to our lifestyle and our economic systems. And yet the global “climate budget” is limited.

The UN’s global Paris agreement on climate change represents a commitment by the community of nations to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve this, carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by 2050.

Henkel is committed to the 1.5 degrees Celsius target and sees it as an essential prerequisite if more than nine billion people are to be able to live well within the resource limits of our planet in 2050.

Three main levers are available to stop global emissions from increasing further, and to make sure emissions are reduced by the required amount:

  1. Increase efficiency: save energy and raw materials
  2. Decarbonize: replace CO2 in energy and raw materials
  3. Use CO2 as a resource: convert CO2 into raw materials

In light of the need to reduce emissions and decarbonize the economy, Henkel pursues the vision to become climate-positive by 2040 in its operations and driving significant progress in other relevant areas of our value chain. By pursuing this goal, we will make an active and committed contribution toward climate protection.

We focus on our own production, which we can influence directly. In addition, we want to influence the key levers in our value chain with major potential for reducing CO2 emissions.

The carbon footprint of our production is around 535.000 metric tons of CO2 and is attributable to the fuels we use ourselves (Scope 1) and the energy purchased (Scope 2), in particular electricity. 
We are aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of our production by 65 percent by 2025 and by 75 percent by 2030 compared to the base year 2010. To do so, we continually improve our energy efficiency and use more energy, particularly electricity, from renewable sources.

Energy efficiency:

We have defined specific targets for our operations to support our progress toward our long-term goal of becoming three times more efficient by 2030. We aim to reduce the energy used by our production sites by 50 percent per ton of product by 2030 compared to the base year 2010.

Conversion to renewable energy:

In addition to our efficiency targets, we are striving to source 100 percent of the electricity we purchase for production from renewable sources by 2030. 

To implement the target of sourcing 100 percent renewable electricity, it is important to consider differences in legislation and infrastructure, as well as levels of regulation and variations in climate conditions in each of the countries we operate in. For this reason, we are following country-specific approaches that are flexible and leverage a portfolio of options. With this in mind, we are basing our conversion to renewable energy on a combination of three models: 

  1. On-site production: This model involves generating green power at our sites through wind turbines, solar cells or other technologies. The infrastructure is either funded by Henkel itself or paid for by collaboration with external partners.
  2.  Direct purchase: For this model, we purchase green power straight from the grid of a local energy utility company, or as part of a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
  3. Virtual coverage: If the two options above cannot be implemented at one of our sites – meaning we cannot generate or purchase renewable electricity directly – green power requirements can be covered virtually. For example, by entering into long-term PPAs that feed green power from specific sites into the supply grid in an amount that is equal to the amount consumed.


By successively converting our production sites using a combination of the models described above, we consider the individual conditions at each site, as well as their respective energy requirements.

On the way to becoming a climate-positive company, in 2020, we signed a large-scale Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) in the US, where it is not possible for us to cover our electricity requirements with on-site production or direct purchase. We are committed to purchase 50 percent of the energy generated at a new wind farm in Bee County, Texas. This capacity is equal to 100 percent of the electricity that we use in our operations in the US, and covers more than 30 production sites.

Szenario for 2040

By 2040, we want to replace the last remaining fossil fuels used in our production with climate-neutral alternatives, such as biogas or gas obtained from converting CO2. We also aim to supply surplus carbon-neutral energy that Henkel does not need for its own purposes to third parties. In doing so, we will avoid emissions from our own activities, and also enable third parties to avoid potential emissions by using clean energy.

Overall, production only accounts for about one percent of our carbon footprint along the entire value chain. The use of our products accounts for around two thirds, and the raw materials for around one quarter. This is where we see big potential to reduce emissions and contribute to climate protection.


It is our target that 100 million ton of CO2 are saved together with our consumers, customers and suppliers in the ten-year period 2016-2025. 

COemissions during product use

Our products are used millions of times every day in households and industrial processes. As our analysis shows, the product use phase has the greatest impact on our carbon footprint. 

For this reason, our goal is to leverage the potential of our brands and technologies and to offer our expertise to help our customers and consumers save CO2 emissions. 

Our goal includes two approaches. With our engagement, we want to help reduce CO2 emissions that are generated by customers when they use our products (called Scope 3 emissions). In addition, we want to help customers avoid CO2 emissions by using our products and technologies (called Scope 4 emissions). Through our brands and technologies, we make products that are used and applied in ways that directly linked to the use of energy, such as detergents, shower gels, or hotmelt adhesives. We want to enable the efficient use of energy with innovations that cut energy consumption and the related CO2 footprint. On top of this, we strive to encourage responsible-minded behavior while using our products through targeted communication.

The initiative “Be smarter. Save water.” from Beauty Care is one example. Launched in 2016, this initiative involves our Schauma, Fa and Theramed brands, and it aims to raise consumer awareness about the responsible use of water as an important resource. Using less hot water also results in less CO2 emissions. The initiative includes information provided on the product packaging and a related website. Through the website, consumers are able to calculate their personal daily water footprint and see the benefits of shorter shower times, for example. Studies show the positive results that can be achieved by raising consumer awareness: if consumers of our products reduced their shower time by an average of 15 percent, it would be possible to save more than 200,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Lower water temperatures when washing clothes also help to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions. Through continuous research and development partnerships, as well as significant investment in new formulations, we enable our consumers to achieve excellent washing results when using increasingly concentrated dosages at lower temperatures – or even when washing laundry in cold water. We raise awareness of the need to save energy by placing the “be sustainable – wash cold” logo on our laundry detergent packaging to draw consumers’ attention to this topic. The potential for savings is enormous: if no water had to be heated for any of the loads of laundry washed with our heavy-duty detergents, it would be possible to avoid more than seven million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year. 

In relation to the leverage points we have identified along our value chain, we have set a target of saving 100 million metric tons of CO2 together with our customers, consumers and suppliers over the ten-year period from 2016 to 2025. Our previous five-year target up to 2020 was to help our customers and consumers save 50 million metric tons of CO2. We have developed a CO2-saving portfolio for this purpose. The evaluation of the contributions in this portfolio is based on a company-wide, standardized process that sets out the criteria for the selection of the products and the calculation of CO2 emissions. We have summarized some examples of our products and technologies in the following six groups. With regard to the products sold between 2016 and 2020, we enabled our customers and consumers to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 55 million metric tons. In the future, we plan to evaluate additional applications and further expand the portfolio of products that contribute to CO2 savings in the application phase.


CO2 emissions from raw materials

Contribution by our suppliers:

The raw materials we purchase have a decisive impact on our carbon footprint along the value chain. Thus, we are sharing our commitment to becoming climate-positive with our partners and suppliers. We also expect them to make a contribution to the reduction of CO2 along the entire value chain. Therefore, we have the ambitious target to reduce the carbon footprint of our raw materials and packaging that we use by 30 percent per ton of product by 2030 compared to the base year 2017.

Replacing CO2 in raw materials:

In order to reduce emissions further, we have studied our portfolio to see where we can replace carbon-intensive raw materials with low carbon alternatives.

Palm (kernel) oil is a key raw material for Henkel. Its cultivation can lead to deforestation of primary or secondary rainforests of significant environmental value, including peat lands and forests that absorb high levels of carbon. Drainage of these areas, for example, causes considerable carbon emissions. Our goal is therefore to purchase all palm and palm kernel oil used in our products from sustainably-cultivated sources in line with the RSPO’s Mass Balance (RSPO = Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) model by 2025. In doing so, we want to avoid the abovementioned activities that drive carbon emissions during the production of palm (kernel) oil. RSPO-certified palm oil performs better than non-certified with around 35 percent lower greenhouse gas impact.

Use CO2 as a resource: Power-to-X

To maximize our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions along the value chain, Henkel is also focusing on technologies that are still at the development stage – and which offer huge potential for making even better use of temporary or local energy peaks in the future. One of these is “power-to-X”, which enables the CO2 to be used for positive outcomes and is expected to be ready for large-scale technical application within the next 15 years. The technology is the subject of a government research project that is supported by several companies: Henkel is also planning to participate.

Using power from renewable energy sources, this technology makes it possible to blend CO2 with other chemical elements and convert the energy it contains.

The “power” in power-to-X is green power that is generated through water electrolysis and stored as hydrogen. “X” represents the numerous valuable raw materials into which this hydrogen can be converted in conjunction with carbon dioxide – e.g., gas fuels, synthetic fuels or chemical raw materials, such as surfactants or plastics. These raw materials are climate-neutral if made from CO2 taken from industrial processes. They are climate-positive if CO2 from the atmosphere is used as the resource.

This opens up new possibilities for Henkel: Firstly, we can use gas from power-to-X to fuel our production (spray towers, power plant). Secondly, we can replace carbon-intensive raw materials with raw materials from the power-to-X process.

If used on a wide scale, the technology can help to significantly cut CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, reducing the carbon footprint of our value chain in the future. Over the long term, it could even make it possible to extract more CO2 from the atmosphere than is emitted into it, making a positive overall impact on the climate. 

The deployment of conventional combustion engines that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which is mainly composed of methane, is one of the technologies that we are implementing into our business operations as part of our journey toward more sustainable mobility. CNG produces the least amount of CO2 of all types of fossil fuel combustion. In 2019, our Laundry & Home Care business unit implemented a pilot project that deployed a truck powered by CNG combustion for round-trip deliveries between Serbia and Austria. The CNG powered truck saves up to 15 % of CO2-emissions on this route compared to a conventional diesel truck. After the successful pilot project, two more CNG trucks were introduced in 2020. 

In accordance with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) Henkel derived its own science-based emission reduction targets based on its long-term targets. The Science Based Targets initiative  by the UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) aims at encouraging companies to set such targets.

In March 2020 Henkel’s science-based targets were approved by the initiative as consistent with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The targets as approved by the initiative are:

  • Henkel commits to reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 67 percent per ton of product by 2030 from a 2017 base year. 
  • Henkel also commits to increase annual sourcing of renewable electricity from 6 percent in 2017 to 100% by 2030. 
  • Furthermore, Henkel commits to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services 30 percent per ton of product by 2030 from a 2017 base year.

The targets covering greenhouse gas emissions from Henkel’s operations (scopes 1 and 2) are consistent with reductions required to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. 

Henkel’s target for the emissions from its value chain (scope 3) meet the SBTi’s criteria for ambitious value chain goals, meaning they are in line with current best practice.