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Evan van Hook
Chief Sustainability Officer
Honeywell International

10 November 2022

How did Honeywell's early approach to the green transition lead you to where you are now in terms of sustainability?

Back in 2004, the CEO and the board took the brave position to voluntarily make substantial changes to the environmental footprint of the company. Each of our businesses had to set targets that were to be met on their road to sustainability, setting the stage for the business opportunities more broadly. During all these motions, we discovered that even the simplest of things could have a great impact, e.g. fixing the leaks in the compressed air systems can save huge amounts of energy. Operating as efficiently as possible, and thus using as little energy as necessary, is the first step to a green transition. In this sense, the term "negawatts" was coined, which means watts that you're not using but creating through efficiency. We are proud to report that since 2004 we have reduced our greenhouse intensity by more than 90%.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel is an amazing breakthrough, how reasonable is it to say that it will enter the market commercially in the next few years?

One of the largest puzzles linked to SAF is feedstock, more precisely what materials can be used to generate biofuel. We constantly work on finding better and more efficient solutions to this through our Ecofining Technology, that can both be used in new refineries as well as retrofitted in old ones. Recently we partnered with United Airlines in order to co-invest in Alder Fuels, expanding the feedstock base with woody biomass. In fact, United took the first commercial passenger flight with 100% renewable fuel, a huge step in the way of sustainability. 

The other good news is that we have been signing agreements with refineries around the world to start generating SAF. These days, many flights taking off from LAX use some of the SAF created through our technology. The sustainable economy is exciting in this way, encouraging partnerships between companies and technology leaders, and Honeywell will always be a part of this.

How does the demand for sustainable solutions look like and what do you think drives it at this point in time?

At this point in time, demand is especially abundant. In fact, there are so many drivers that in many areas they are outstripping supply, which is a good place to be from an innovation perspective. Besides the general public, which is becoming increasingly aware about climate change and ways to slow it down, institutional shareholders and customers have also created tremendous demand for performance in this area. As a result, we constantly need to innovate and create the products that will satisfy the needs of our clients. Last year, Honeywell committed to having carbon neutral facilities and operations by 2035, as well as setting a target with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) which will also extend to our value chain emissions. 

Honeywell is trying to quantify Scope 3 GHG emissions - is it a model that can be replicated for others to use as well?

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are easier to quantify and reduce because they relate to the energy we use, the fuel we burn or the chemicals we emit. Scope 3 emissions have not been in focus for as long; protocols are not as well developed, and they are definitely more challenging to quantify. For example, in the case of motorcycles, Scope 3 emissions would depend on the customer's driving pattern, which can be 10 miles or 1000 miles a week. For Honeywell it is somewhat easier to quantify our Scope 3 emissions because we are more of a B2B type of marketer and it is easier to get our hands on the downstream side, given that we sell large technologies. 

There are 15 Scope 3 categories, but what is really important is to focus on the large things. For example, large refrigerant manufacturers use HFC (hydrofluoro carbons), which are protective of the ozone layer but have a significant GHG impact. Ten years ago, we realized that this was not going to be a sustainable path so, together with our partners, we started working on a replacement. We and our partners invested $1 billion in the development of new molecules and capacity expansion and this is how Solstice® hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) technology came to life -- an alternative that has a global warming potential of less than one, significantly lower than the global warming potential of some of the materials they replace.

What are the greatest challenges for the clean energy transition and how can they be mitigated?

If every company looks at what their big impacts are and works hard to address those, we are going to see real progress.

 

Innovation is only going upwards these days with the new bill that really tie into this idea, creating all kinds of positive incentives.

 

However, partnerships are of the essence in every domain linked to the climate transition, all these new ecosystems require different participants working together. 

Honeywell is very dedicated to participating in the energy transition and we look forward to creating meaningful and strong partnerships that will speed up the process and inspire others to join us on this magnificent and necessary journey to a cleaner future.

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