On June 27, the 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions of the World Economic Forum (also known as the 2023 Summer Davos) kicked off in Tianjin.

NBD had an interview with Niklas Gustafsson, chief sustainability officer of Volvo Group. "Before 2040, the company's products will be completely carbon neutral and China may be most likely earlier than other countries to achieve that goal," he said.

Achieving True Energy Transition through Multi-party Dialogue

NBD: You mentioned multi-party dialogue, so what kind of conversations do you think are valuable to businesses?

Niklas Gustafsson: We need different kinds of dialogues. We need dialogues within the whole value chain of the industry. For instance, for truck manufacturers going electric, we need to talk with a lot of charging operators and energy providers to understand when will this transition happen for real. 

And we need a dialogue with our customers so that they can be confident and trust in this transition. And then we also need another dialogue. And that is with the policymakers and the local government and natural government to secure that we go at the same pace in this transition.

NBD: You mentioned that competition is somehow a Carrot for a leading company. Does that mean that you think incentives are better than "sticks" to make a company sustainable?

Niklas Gustafsson: I think it's a mix between carrots and sticks. But if you take the extreme that it will only stick, only regulations, then it would not be good, because since we are talking of the whole value chain system change, it's so many different parts, so many different companies, so many different sectors that need to be regulated.

It's better with carrots because if there is a drive in all of these different sectors to do this transition, it comes naturally from the company's own willingness to make money from a business perspective.

Going Full Carbon Neutral before 2040

NBD: At the meeting, you encouraged young people to join Volvo and take on the responsibility of achieving sustainability together. However, it is noticed that more and more young people around the world are unemployed. Is there anything Volvo can do to help solve the problem?

Niklas Gustafsson: We have lots of different programs on how to engage young people in our company. And it goes actually all the way down to the very small kids where we educate small them on what is happening in our industry. And then we also engage with different universities all over the world, to secure that people understand that this is the company to work for. It's important to tell the young that this is where you can be part of the transition from, so to say, the brown platform to the green platform. This is the way where you can change the world into a better place.

NBD: So what's Volvo’s next step in China?

Niklas Gustafsson: We have a global plan. Before 2040, all our products will be completely carbon neutral. And China will be most likely sooner than other countries to achieve that goal. So that is the plan to change our whole product lineup to be battery-powered. 

NBD: Do you think the meeting is fruitful?

Niklas Gustafsson: I think it's great to have this meeting here in Tianjin. I really think it's great because it's it has the opportunity to gather to get a lot of different stakeholders in the same place.

Editor: Alexander