Podcast: Three Global Sustainability Events


Podcast: Three Global Sustainability Events

Three back-to-back sustainability events – SDG summit in New York, the release of the ATIEL-UEIL joint product carbon footprint calculation methodology and the COP28 climate summit – all have a bearing on the lubricants industry in unique and interconnected ways.

Our regular sustainability contributor Apu Gosalia takes us through their individual significance each and highlight where they’ll have an impact on the industry.

The 2023 SDG Summit took place on September 18-19 in New York and marked the halfway point between their launch and the deadline in 2030.

The Union of the European Lubricant Industry and the Technical Association of the European Lubricants Industry related their co-developed methodology to calculate and report product carbon footprints for lubricants and greases across the European Union in October. The methodology is based on ISO 14067, the standard that defines the requirements necessary for companies to qualify the carbon footprint of their products.  

COP28 will be the 28th UN climate change conference, held from November 30 until 12 December in Expo City, Dubai.

Simon Johns  00:00

Hello and welcome to the Lubes’n’Greases podcast. My name is Simon Johns and I am delighted to welcome back our regular sustainability contributor Apu Gosalia. Hello, Apu. 

Apu Gosalia  00:09

Good afternoon to you, Simon.

Simon Johns  00:11

We’ve got three things of cosmic significance to talk about this quarter.

Apu Gosalia  00:16

You’re stealing my lines.

Simon Johns  00:19

I know you’d like to kind of tie in things were numerologically. And coincidentally. And so we’ve got one event, starting from September through October, and then November, of three very, actually very important events. And they all connect with the lubricants industry in a certain way. First of all, we’re going to talk about the SDG summit in New York, the United Nations sustainability development goals. And you were in New York at that time. So it is of particular personal significance and cosmic significance.

Apu Gosalia  00:47

As you rightly said, I do not have to reiterate but you you mentioned the word cosmic significance, which I like very much. But in many cases, it’s true. I traveled to New York with my son for two weeks New York and Washington. In September, I believe I also wrote about that in one of the latest columns in the loops increases magazine, because there were many things tied into sustainability also in a personal way. But you’re fully right. Actually, it was on the very day, when we flew back the 18th of September, when very important overall United Nations, and you can say sustainability conference started. And tied into that conference was the, as you rightly mentioned, SDG Summit, just to recall that to everyone. SDG stands for the sustainable development goals of the United Nations, there are 17 of them. And exactly it was a two day conference in New York, it marked the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress, we can say, towards the sustainable development goals. And it was really with high level political guidance at this point in time many delegations attended. And it was also a special conference, because this summit marked exactly exactly the halfway point for the deadline of Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. So as many of the listeners would know, they were established as part of the UN agenda in 2015. And the target for reaching these goals was 2030. So this conference was right in the middle, and it was a high level leak of this General Assembly of the United Nations. And I think it is important to mention that, and also important to talk a little bit about what the result was, where we are standing, actually, the SDGs are the cornerstone of many company’s sustainability activities.  

Simon Johns  02:46

Some of them seem a little bit kind of irrelevant. But would you say that they’re all relevant to companies in the lubricant industry? Or do you think that they should be concentrating on others rather than over some that aren’t on face value? 

Apu Gosalia  02:58

That’s an excellent question. And I would have mentioned it in the second sentence. And it’s exactly the right question to ask because, as you know, I last three, four years, you’re helping, supporting consulting many companies inside and outside of the lubricants industry. And more or less, every one will have to have a feedback and an impact and also a report on their performance on all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. But is exactly right, what you say not all of these goals are equally important depending on which industry you’re in, and what the impact of your company is. And so there are actually two true things that are always realized. So some companies take really all of these 17 goals as a framework, and then just talk about how much or how little they contribute to all of these goals. But what I also find much more important is to say, well, for a company and also lubricants company to say, Well, we believe in all of these 17 goals, they’re equally important, but we focus on specific goals, because that’s the nature of our industry. And to answer your question, and that goes back, actually, to my final two years when I was heading the sustainability task force a few years ago, when we worked on all these issues, and to come to the point, together with partners and other companies in the Sustainability Committee, which then later turned to a task force, we decided on for most relevant Sustainable Development Goals, especially for the lubricants industry, and I think it is important to recall the four of them. So that was goal number nine, as it’s called, that is industry and infrastructure production. So it is actually called build resilient infrastructure promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization definitely an important goal for an industry which is working with lubricants and witches. Working with oils and chemicals. So definitely important. The second goal was goal number 12, which was responsible consumption and production. That goes without saying that if you produce chemical goods or oils or whatever, you have to be particularly responsible for how you produce them how they are consumed, and all of production patterns and so on. The third one was, and that is really no surprise, the goal number 13, which is the goal for climate action, and that is more or less a goal which every company will have on their agenda. So that means also the lubricants industry take urgent action to combat climate change. And especially, we can talk about that in a minute. That goes hand in hand with what happened in October, with product carbon footprints with corporate carbon footprints of lubricants industry. And last but not least, goal number 17, which is very often underestimated, because it’s very broad goal number 17 of the SDGs calls for partnerships for all of the other goals and partnerships in the industry. But we know that especially in the lubricants industry, this is very important because we are sending lubricants industry is at the end of the process and value chains, and their suppliers, their customers, their partners, no one can solve this alone. And so it is very important to strengthen the means of implementation, and to revitalize the Global Partnerships for sustainable development alongside the process in value chain. So cut a lot of story short this summit took place. These are the four I would say most important goals, especially for the for the lubricants industry. And the last thing that I can maybe say, what was the outcomes of this 2023 SDG. Summit? Well, it comes with no surprise that, of course, because of all that is happening right now. I mean, the crisis, which is not yet fully over the global conflicts that happened in the last three, four years, and now we have got other conflicts. There have been significant delays in reaching these 17 Sustainable Development Goals. There has been progress. But we are not fully on track on reaching this goals with regard to the year, the target year 2013. That is maybe in a nutshell, where we are however, these overarching global challenges were also frequently acknowledged throughout the summit by by the president Antonio Guterres. And he said, we have to now urgently increase the speed, but we can still reach the targets and 2030 If we make significant progress. So I would say that is what is important as a message to take back. First thing to sum it up is we are exactly in the middle of these SDG developments. The summit took place. Yeah, there are challenges to reach the goals, but it’s still possible. And for the lubricants industry. Four of these goals are particularly important.

Simon Johns  08:09

Another piece of guidance framework that lots of companies like to use is the science based targets initiative, how do those two entities connect?

Apu Gosalia  08:18

There is connection, everything more or less interconnected to reach this overall goal to reduce co2 emissions to decarbonize to become Climate Neutral for different countries and continents. So actually, you can say it this way, if we talk about the Sustainable Development Goals, we’re talking about everything. It’s not only climate involved, it’s about really everything that is associated with broad sustainability. And we know that’s not always only ecological, that ecological is important. But there’s also social things to cater for. So for instance, the first goal, the very first goal of the SDGs is no poverty. There is also other goals like gender equality, there’s also other goals like safety and security. So the distinction between the SDGs and the science based targets initiative is that I would say the SDGs look at all the pillars of sustainability, economic, ecological and social. Why the science based targets initiative is precisely with regard to the goal of decarbonisation, just to recall, that was what does the science based targets initiative, say? It says, well, a certain company has calculated the carbon footprint and made the climate balanced for the first time. How much would that company have to reduce percentage wise their current carbon footprint in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement in order to reach climate neutrality? And that is, I would say the big difference? Yeah, but I mean, actually, everything is interconnected.

Simon Johns  09:54

And so following on from that, I think maybe we can move on to the second cosmic event of the season. It’s the release of the ATIEL and UEIL joint collaboration on the product carbon footprint guidelines.

Apu Gosalia  10:09

Yeah. So when we come from September to October, cosmic significance is maybe a little bit going too far. But it’s interesting that as I mentioned beginning, September, October, November, three different things that in the first place might not seem interconnected, but they are all so to say together for the overarching target of co2, decarbonisation, and so on. So I just talked about the UEIL and about the lubricants industry in the other context of the SDGs. What are the most important goals. And I talked about the sustainability taskforce that I had the pleasure to have till the end of 2019. And I remember already at that point in time, we actually, together with different companies and partners started the phase of, we need to have standard, a common standard alongside all the different associations. So it’s not only ATIEL, but it’s actually the associations which are directly or indirectly related to the lubricants, industry, additives, and base oils have to work together to come up with a with a joint approach on this is the standard on calculating the product carbon footprint of of lubricants. And that is actually what happened now in October, there is the so called methodology for product, carbon footprint calculations for lubricants and other specialities out there. And it’s actually you see, it’s not that it’s a totally new standard. I mean, I think we talked about that already. In the past, there is one and one standard, only more or less for calculating the product, carbon footprint of products, not only the lubricants industry, it’s an ISO standard. And it’s the ISO 14 067. And that’s a number which is very frequently used. And actually, the association’s just came up with more or less the fact that the ISO 14, six, seven is the standard, which needs to be used also by lubricants manufacturers, and they just work in a little bit more detail onto what it doesn’t exactly mean, how to use the standard. So it’s not that the developed a new standard, but that kind of acknowledged and said that, by the means of this standard, how does the methodology need to be in order for the company to measure and to follow and to come up with their product comfort print, and as you can see, it’s again, related to what I just talked before, it’s about climate change, measuring decarbonizing and coming together. So I would say if SDG was the event in September, then I think the release of this document, which took three, four years in the making, is quite remarkable and unnecessary, important information that happened in October.

Simon Johns  13:13

If I was a small to medium sized enterprise working in an industrial park in somewhere in middle England, how would that be relevant to what I’m doing? What how would I use it? How would I incorporate it into my daily operations? Would it be something? Or would it be something that I get the data off the shelf from somebody else that’s done it? How does that work?

Apu Gosalia  13:30

Well that’s now a totally different story. And that’s very challenging, because a small company depending on what you do, the one thing is, a standard shows you where your system boundaries are what you need to include which data you need to include what makes your product carbon footprint valid at the end. So that is that is very important. It actually tells you what you need to calculate a gate to gate, cradle to gate and all of that. So this is for one, but it doesn’t help you in gathering your own data. That means depending on where you’re standing, who your suppliers are, you will at the end of the day still meet the relevant data with which you have to feed your system in order to get a co2 at the end. So these are two different things, but at least you have a guideline now, which exactly tells you which kind of data do I need? Or which product group and so on and so on? The answer The answer to your question is, they are data banks available. They have also been available a long time before but in many cases when you’ve got a very specific product, maybe from a sole supplier, where the values of the co2 of the raw material are not in the data banks, then you will have to go back to your suppliers and ask your suppliers okay, you’re providing this particular additive or this particular product. Have you calculated the product carbon footprint of this raw material that you’re supplying to us because only by this means, you have the data to develop your product cap footprints of the finished lubricants

Simon Johns  15:01

there must have an inbuilt cost that if you if you went to your supplier and required them to supply you with that data rather than using off the shelf data from a databank.

Apu Gosalia  15:11

I mean, data banks are also not for free. I mean, anyway, at number one data banks are not for free. Number two, no company does that totally alone, you would always need in these days, a sparring partner, that means a consulting company, who would do this work for you out of different reasons, because they are acknowledged and certified to do so it’s very complex, they would ask you for this data. But at the end, they will also give you validation and certification and a stamp. So to say, this is a true product, carbon footprint according to the standard. And it’s very important, because you would need many companies, we are helping many companies who say we need to give this to our customers or OEMs, because some of them have been asking us, you are providing lubricants, motor oils, metalworking fluids, and we want to have a paper in hand telling us this is the truly calculated product, carbon footprint of your product. And so you would never do that on your altar. So data banks are there, that would be done. There is no free lunch on that. And actually, it’s interesting. It’s on the countries I’m in I would say in many cases, I remember this in, in my former role, the supplier, if he has to data, he will not ask money for that, because he also has an interest. I mean, if we talk about supplier performance evaluations and suppliers also want to be in a good light for for their customers, which are the lubricant companies. And and they will, I wouldn’t say that they would ask for big money for them to provide you with the data. Because at the end, they’re also making business with you. Yeah. And on the contrary, I mean, I can say that in strong lubricant companies, when you’ve got supplier performance evaluation, where you rate your suppliers according to price, delivery quality of the product, and now also sustainability, I will change it and say if you do not provide relevant sustainability data as an additive or base oil manufacturer to your customer, which is lubricants industry, you will not get a good rating. Yeah. So the money question without money, you will not be able to calculate your product carbon footprint, that’s for sure. Because you cannot do it alone, you need a sparring partner consulting company. And that costs money. So

Simon Johns  17:36

We’ve got a few minutes left. So let’s move on to the third event. And it’s an extremely significant events in the global calendar, not just the lubricant, industry calendar. It’s the COP 28 conference coming up very soon in November. What are your impressions? Exactly?

Apu Gosalia  17:50

Yeah. So that’s, that’s why that’s why I thought when we when we planned for this conference, say, well, where’s the combining element? Well, the combining element is really time at these three consecutive months. So just to reiterate, we had the SDGs. In September, we had the VR Well, the the issue of the PCF and ease of October. And as you rightly said, again, one year gone, by very quickly, we will have at the end of this month, because we had November, until the 12th of December, the 28th, United Nations Climate Change Conference, so it’s an acronym, the cop 28. And that will take place in the in the expo city of Dubai. So it will take place in the United Arab Emirates that has been very much discussed with regard to is that really the right place with regard to climate and everything. But I don’t want to go too much into that, for me, the conference itself, that it takes place is important, because there are important things to talk about and to decide. So let me tell you that in advance even of the cop 28, again, coming back to September, the United Nations published a two year assessment of the Progress again, like the progress of the SDGs. They also published a progress report with regard to where are we standing in terms of climate change, reduction of co2, just to give you the name, they call that the global stocktake and that was already established in cop 26. And according to that report in order to reach carbon neutrality, a phase out, which comes with no surprise of unbated fossil fuels is needed. And among the main findings of the report were actually four issues. Number one, they said that the Paris agreement and the action The following the Paris Agreement, which as we know, was in 2015, significantly, definitely helped to reduce emissions. So just to give you some figures in 2011, and the projected global warming at that point in time, for the year 2100. So looking at the end of this, this whole century was between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees Celsius. That was 12 years ago, the prediction on how global warming is going to develop. And after Prop 27, which took place in Sharjah in Sharm el Sheikh last year, as we know, the new best case or worst case, but the new prediction is that global warming will only be 2.4 to 2.6 degrees, if all commitments will be fulfilled. Now, that’s still too much. But at least it’s lower than what we had 12 years ago. So that’s, that’s number one. And in the best case, it can even be lowered to 1.7 degrees. Now, as we know, the figure is not new, even 1.7 or two degrees is too much, we still need to reach this 1.5 degree target. So not more than 1.5 degrees, global warming, compared to the pre industrial age, so in September, this year, they still had to say, well, we we accomplished something. But we are still not fully on track to reach the targets of the Paris agreement. And we still, on the other hand, have a window to do so. So we will definitely exceed this in the next years to come. But we can again, come back to this 1.5 degree goal. So that that’s actually not a such a bad message. And but we need money for that coming back to money. Again, there are a lot trillions of dollars, they said, of money needed to to limit global warming. And so what is always also disgust besides these goals is that we need money, we need the climate Social Fund, we need especially the rich countries of the Western Hemisphere in the northern hemisphere, to to help the countries of the global south for this transition. But we can still reach the goal. And last but not least, we need international cooperation and collaboration for to reach this targets of the Paris Agreement. So people are very much I wouldn’t say looking forward. But they are very anxious and very curious about what the forthcoming cocktail 28 will bring for results.

Simon Johns  22:46

Yeah, both you and I have been to America lately. And America is a kind of a unique place where lots of things are consumed by lots of people a lot of the time. Sometimes it seems that there’s there’s there’s two worlds, there’s the world that is fully embracing the idea of climate change. And then there’s the world that doesn’t want to even think about it. That said, and since you’re a sustainability insider, are you feeling a groundswell upwards of momentum for people taking more steps to become sustainable to think about climate change for businesses to transform, not just in Europe, but globally? Are you sensing that? Or are we getting sort of, are we looking down the wrong end of the telescope?

Apu Gosalia  23:30

The answer is there is a very clear answer to that question. And that is, it depends. Yeah, so it’s, it’s yes or no, but But I can tell you a little bit about the know. And I need to know, I would say is not always fully and not yet, because we mentioned it in the beginning. And this is not an excuse, but it’s just reality. If you’ve got all these other things to tackle, then it becomes difficult to always focus on on the climate part. On the other hand, and this is my last comment, we have this obligatory sustainability reporting directive, which I mentioned the CSRD. And this will basically consider European based companies but also other companies in the US in Asia, who make a lot of business with Europe. And they will all have to focus on product, carbon footprint, and materiality, analysis reducing and everything. And so I would say if it’s, it’s also pressure, it’s pressure, which is coming. And so it’s going to happen, whether companies want it or not, in the long run medium term, it is going to happen globally. So it’s not only a European phenomenon.

Simon Johns  24:44

And that’s a great place to end today’s edition of the lubes and Greece’s sustainability podcast. Thank you very much, who for joining us, and we’ll see you back here in a few months. Thank you so much.

Apu Gosalia  24:53

Thank you very much. My pleasure. All the best.

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