Climate, environment and sustainability

    Sustainable Development Goals

    The 17 global goals for sustainable development of the 2030 Agenda, called "Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs), are aimed at actors in politics, business, civil society and science worldwide. The German automotive industry is committed to achieving these goals in a variety of ways.

    The 17 global goals for sustainable development of the 2030 Agenda, called "Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs), are aimed at actors in politics, business, civil society and science worldwide. The German automotive industry is committed to achieving these goals in a variety of ways.

    Since September 2015, the United Nations has had a common basis for advancing sustainability in the world. At that time, all UN member states signed an agreement on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are highly interdependent. Therefore, a holistic view is feasible even if the focus is only on selected SDGs.

    The German automotive industry is committed to a global and constantly evolving understanding of sustainability. The companies support the implementation of sustainability measures in a variety of ways and in accordance with the three-dimensional orientation in the form of economic, ecological and social responsibility. The selection of their main objectives is explained below using 5 of the 17 SDGs. Related to this, elements of poverty reduction (SDG 1), food availability (SDG 2), health promotion (SDG 3), equality (SDG 5 & 10), expansion of climate-neutral energy supply (SDG 7) and nature conservation (SDG 14 & 15) are also addressed.

    A strong economy provides a society with the basis for securing economic and social prosperity. Cross-market competition through fair free trade also helps companies continually improve and develop their performance.

    This also has a positive effect on employees. A growing economy creates the basis for offering people good wages and high social standards.

    The German automotive industry makes an essential contribution to these objectives. In this country, it contributes to 18.7% of gross value added and 14% of employment in the manufacturing sector. In addition, the automotive industry developed an assessment standard through the Responsible Supply Chain Initiative (RSCI) to ensure compliance with human rights due diligence along its supply chains, identify risks and protect employees. In this way, it contributes to strengthening social responsibility and sustainability.


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    Economy and industry

    Market development

    Foreign trade

    Employment effects of the transformation

    Responsible Supply Chain Initiative (RSCI)

    Technical, social and business model innovations are the basis of constant modernization. In order to enable inventions and product developments to have a far-reaching influence on society as a whole, it is necessary to maintain economic innovative strength and use it to a broad extent. This requires direct support for research and development as well as prioritized support for the manufacturing sector and the creation of the necessary infrastructure.

    The German automotive industry is a pioneer when it comes to investing in research and development. In addition, it is committed to the expansion of sustainable infrastructure such as charging infrastructure, electricity and hydrogen networks, energy supply and IT.


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    Research and Development


    Charging Infrastructure

    Industrial Policy

    The topic of sustainability always requires a holistic approach. This means, on the one hand, that implementation must take place on a global scale and, on the other hand, that products must be viewed in terms of sustainability over their entire life cycle and across all stages of the value chain.

    The German automotive industry is taking various measures. Examples:

    • Sustainable design: increasing energy efficiency, longevity and repairability;
    • Economical production: reduction of energy and water consumption, conservation of resources and prudence in material procurement;
    • Considerate use: Developing connected and automated driving;
    • Closing the product life cycle: establishing a circular economy.


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    Raw materials for electromobility

    Connected and automated driving

    In the year in which the United Nations committed itself to the 17 SDGs, the international community also signed the Paris Climate Agreement. The German automotive industry is also committed to the goal of limiting global warming to well below two degrees and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era. This is crucial for protecting the environment and resources in the future.

    In the area of mobility, the focus is on the topic of decarbonization. In any case a global perspective along the entire life cycle is essential. In a classic combustion vehicle, 75% of the CO₂ emissions arise during the use phase. Accordingly, ramping up electromobility is the most effective lever for this purpose. Manufacturers and suppliers to the German automotive industry will invest more than 250bn euros in research and development worldwide from 2023 to 2027. The focus of these investments is on transformation, especially e-mobility - including battery technology and autonomous driving. In addition, there needs to be a significant expansion of renewable energies and digitalization in close cooperation with politics.


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    Connected Car Technologies

    Trade policy and sustainability

    Sustainable development, including for future generations, can only be achieved if the groups involved work together. This includes governments, the private sector and civil society and requires cooperation across company, industry and national boundaries.

    As a business association, the VDA sees one of its main tasks as driving forward and continually upgrading the exchange between different interest groups. Its role includes mediating, informing, contextualizing and appealing activities. As an example, the Responsible Supply Chain Initiative (RSCI) should be highlighted here, which offers an assessment standard for the collaborative implementation of social due diligence obligations.

    The association also initiated the International Material Data System (IMDS) as a global production standard for auto parts and the Catena-X platform for simplified data exchange along the entire value chain.


    Additional information:

    European agenda

    Importance of trade policy

    Trade and sustainability

    International Association Partnerships India and Africa Cluster

    Responsible Supply Chain Initiative (RSCI)