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Climate Protection Strategy and Targets

  • 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 about 665,000 tons of CO2 and is attributable in equal measure to the fuels we use ourselves (Scope 1) and the energy purchased (Scope 2), particularly electricity.

We are aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of our production by 65 percent by 2025 and by 75 percent 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. One of our medium-term targets is to reduce the energy used by our production sites by 30 percent per ton of product by 2020 compared to the base year 2010, and then to increase this reduction to 50 percent by 2030, compared to the same base year.

Conversion to green power:

In addition to our efficiency targets, we are striving to source 100 percent of the electricity we use in operations from renewable sources by 2030. Our interim target for this goal is to achieve 50-percent coverage by 2020.

To implement our goal, 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 green power on a combination of the following three models:

  1. On-site production: We generate green power at our sites through wind turbines, solar cells or other technologies, where environmental and economic criteria support this. The infrastructure is either funded by Henkel itself or paid for by collaborations with external partners through long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). 
  2.  Direct purchase: This approach involves purchasing green power either straight from the grid of a local energy utility company or within the framework of a long-term PPA.
  3. Virtual coverage: This approach includes entering into long-term PPAs that feed green power from specific plants into the supply grid – in an amount that is equal to the amount consumed. Our green power requirements will be covered virtually if the two approaches mentioned above are not feasible in particular countries, meaning generating or purchasing renewable electricity directly. Therefore, with virtual coverage we can contribute to building additional capacities by green power purchase. In any situations where this is not possible for Henkel our electricity requirements can be covered with the appropriate green power certificates.


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.

Scenario 2040+ for our operations

With our vision to become a climate-positive company by 2040, we want to replace the last remaining fossil fuels used in our operations with climate-neutral alternatives, such as biogas or gas obtained from converting CO2 (power-to-gas), and to supply carbon-neutral energy to third parties. In doing so, we will not only avoid emissions ourselves; we will also enable third parties to benefit from clean energy and avoid potential emissions themselves.

Overall, production only accounts for about two 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. Our interim target for this goal is to achieve a reduction of 50 million tons of CO2 when customers and consumers use our products in the five-year period 2016-2020. 

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.. Our Persil resource calculators, for example, show how even a small change in everyday behavior can make a positive contribution. Our business units have launched initiatives to raise our consumers’ awareness of the need to handle resources responsibly, such as our „BeSmarter“ initiative, and the introduction of the cold wash logo on detergent products.

The “Be smarter. Save water.” initiative from our business unit Beauty Care pursues the goal to create consumer awareness about the responsible use of water as an important resource. Using less warm 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 who purchased Henkel products reduced their shower time by an average of 15 percent, it would be possible to avoid more than 200,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Lower water temperatures 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 loads of laundry washed with heavy-duty detergents from Henkel, it would be possible to avoid more than 7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.


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 2020. 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.

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.