Working towards a low-carbon future is at the core of the Group's new CSR strategy. With its “goTOzero” commitment, the Group aims to achieve carbon neutrality across the entire product lifecycle by 2050. As just one powerful initiative to help the Group realize a low-carbon future, the “Green Belt” project will support afforestation in ecologically fragile areas of northern China over the next 10 years, as well as improve the lives of local residents and create more employment opportunities through ecological restoration.
Climate change is a major challenge facing the world, and reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions is an important measure in controlling global warming and achieving sustainable development. The Chinese government is committed to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, which coincides with Volkswagen Group’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality across the entire product lifecycle by 2050. As an effective means to achieve carbon neutrality, afforestation not only contributes to carbon sink, but also helps prevent wind erosion and soil loss, enriches biodiversity, and improves the local ecological environment. In 2021, Volkswagen Group China, together with Volkswagen brand, Audi and ŠKODA, kicked off its “Green Belt” afforestation project, in order to promote the sustainable development of the ecological environment in China.
Over the next ten years, the Group, in close cooperation with the China Green Foundation, will plant trees in 10 ecologically fragile areas stretching across the north of China, including Wuwei, Haibei, Jiuquan, Zhongwei, Bayannur, Ulanqab, Chifeng, and other cities. Tree species for planting will be selected according to the Natural Based Solution (NBS) principle, attaching equal importance to protection and local ecological restoration, improving the living environment of residents and supporting local development. The total trees will be planted is more than 8.5 Mio. and the afforested area will cover more than 40 million square meters, equal to roughly twice the size of Volkswagen Group’s industrial footprint in China.*
On April 1, 2021, “Green Belt” was officially launched in Wuwei, Gansu Province. The afforestation site is located in the new eco-immigration area of Gulang County, Wuwei. By planting 850,000 locally suitable plants such as white elm, elaeagnus angustifolia, caragana microphylla and scoparium, along the Ganwu railway line, an ecological barrier spanning around 26 kilometers will be created for the local eco-immigration area to prevent the spread of desertification to the immigration area, protect the production and living facilities of local residents, protect the local ecology, and aid in rural vitalization.
*As of Apr. 2020.
1,000 Environmental Friendly Teacher Ambassadors Program
In June 2016, witnessed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Volkswagen Group China and the China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF) signed a fund cooperation agreement, with the first donation of 10 million RMB going to support the 1,000 Environmentally Friendly Teacher Ambassadors Program. The program consists of three phases, namely: the Year of Education, the Year of Innovation and the Year of Change. The program helps teachers learn environmental knowledge and teaching methods through the development of teaching materials, offline in-depth training and themed contests related to the teaching curriculum, eco-innovation and eco-change. This has enabled teachers to promote environmental education among tens of thousands of primary and secondary school students, and encourage both families and communities to make positive changes, ultimately raising public awareness of environmental protection and promoting the sustainable development of Chinese society.
By the end of 2019, the program had trained and re-trained nearly 8,000 teachers, who together with 3.46 million students have benefitted from the program.
Youth Environment Ambassador Action & Education Program (YEAAEP)
In 2016, Volkswagen Group China and the Goethe-Institute jointly launched the Youth Environment Ambassador Action & Education Program (YEAAEP). The program aims to educate the youth about nature, and build long-term awareness of protecting the environment and nature, encouraging them to take action. Furthermore, the program contributes to the sustainable development of environmental education in China.
Creating opportunities for teachers and students to experience in-depth learning on environmental protection and climate change, the program has compiled teaching materials structured in three modules: “Forest”, “Climate” and “Resource Efficiency”. Around 150 schools have already integrated these modules into German language studies and other courses. The program also organized more than 50,000 students to design and execute environmental protection initiatives in schools and local areas. So far, 1,500 students have been awarded as “Youth Environmental Protection Ambassadors”. A series of themed activities, including a Drawing Competition, Environmental Action Day, and TRASHedy Environmental Awareness China Tour were organized, welcoming the participation of more than 3,000 teachers and students, reaching nearly 1.5 million people on social media, and further enhancing public awareness of environmental protection and climate change.