In a situation with an increased uncertainty about the future due to social problems in a global scale, such as food issues and global warming, long-term, world-common goals have been set such as SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and others. For the climate change problem, the shift to a “decarbonized” society has been accelerated, with each country declaring substantially zero emissions of CO2 and carbon neutrality. Also, the move from the conventional economy that has led to mass production, mass consumption, and mass waste disposal toward a circular economy has progressed, which aims for an economy with minimized waste generation by preserving and maintaining the values of products and resources as long as possible.
With “For Earth, For Life” as its concept for environmental management, the Kubota Group aims to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society, regarding environmental conservation, including climate change countermeasures, as a priority issue in its corporate activities. The Kubota Group has formulated its “Environmental Vision,” which, together with our Long-term Vision “GMB2030,” shows the direction of our business activities toward 2050 from an environmental perspective and will promote initiatives to realize this vision.
- 1 Click the link for Environmental Management Basic Policy
- Toward the Realization of the Environmental Vision
- Kubota's Initiatives
- Background in establishing the Environmental Vision
Toward the Realization of the Environmental Vision
1. Challenge to Achieve Zero Environmental Impact
Procuring raw materials and components, and processing them into products, our company provides our customers with its various products. In this process, and in the use of the products by customers, a large volume of resources, including energy, is consumed. To continue our business globally, we need to use limited resources in an efficient and sustainable way.
Toward the realization of zero environmental impact, we will promote the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in our business activities, a thorough reduction of waste or loss of energy based on the Kubota Production System (KPS), the expansion of the recovery and reuse of waste energy and of the use of renewable energy, water-saving in areas under high water stress, and maximizing the utilization efficiency of resources in the product lifecycle. In addition, we will develop our efforts toward zero environmental impact in our entire business value chain.
However, it is not easy to achieve zero environmental impact. To steadily approach zero environmental impact, we will systematically promote the reduction of greenhouse gases, implementation of energy-saving, reduction of waste, water-saving, and reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). We will also take up a challenge of sustainable business activities that can maintain the Earth's self-purification capability and carrying capacity.
2. Toward the Realization of a Carbon Neutral and Resilient Society
In addition to the mitigation of climate change (controlling greenhouse gas emissions), Kubota also engages in environmental conservation activities and provides environmentally-friendly products and solutions to adapt to the effects of climate change (avoiding or minimizing damage brought about by climate change) and to address water and waste issues. In these ways, we are contributing to the realization of a sustainable, especially carbon neutral and resilient society.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector, including land use in the agricultural field, are said to account for about 24% of the world's total emissions. It is believed that without efficient food production, greenhouse gas emissions will increase. According to the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report, atmospheric concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, which are far more damaging greenhouse gases than CO2, are rising and measures are needed to curb their emissions. Also, climate change is affecting the reduction and relocation of arable land, agricultural practices, and even ecosystems. Given the declining number of farm workers owing to the impact of urbanization in rural areas, more efficient food production in limited areas under cultivation is now needed.
In the “food” sector, which is one of our business areas, we believe we can reduce emissions of not only CO2, but also methane and nitrous oxide, and contribute to more efficient food production by further evolving smart agriculture, the automatic operation of farm machinery, farming technology, and water environment solutions technology. By increasing the productivity of agriculture, we will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector by improving the efficiency of agriculture, reducing energy consumption, conserving resources of fertilizer and pesticides, and curbing deforestation intended to expand agricultural land.
Under the influence of climate change, the frequent occurrence and intensified damage of weather disasters have become remarkable. In addition, with available water resources unevenly distributed depending on the regions, the population who cannot access safe water has risen to 1.6 billion people. Even if we succeed in controlling the global rise of temperature due to climate change to less than 1.5°C, the population who has to face water shortages is expected to increase. Also, population increase and improved living standards are assumed to further aggravate the resource and waste problems and agricultural water shortages due to mass production, mass consumption, and mass waste disposal.
In the “water and the environmental” fields, we will provide products, services, and solutions, such as products to contribute to disaster prevention and disaster recovery, and efficient water monitoring and management systems that utilize AI / IoT, which are designed to avoid and mitigate damage due to the influences of climate change, including frequent occurrence of climate disasters, changes in agricultural styles, and increase in the frequency of work-related heatstroke. We will further expand our products, services, and solutions intended to realize advanced recycling of water resources and waste and control water pollution and air pollution, contributing to natural disaster-resistant community-building and the realization of a resilient society.
- Taking on the Challenge of Carbon Neutrality
Based on the situation of CO2 emissions in the entire product life cycle as a whole, we believe that it is important to tackle reducing CO2 emissions when manufacturing and using products.
Toward the realization of a carbon-neutral society, we will continue to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy, and also press ahead with plans to improve the fuel-efficiency of our products, or electrify them. However, uncertainty still shrouds the sources of power required of a carbon-neutral era because they are susceptible to regulations and policies geared towards decarbonization, market trends, and the development of infrastructure. With a view to the future at least 10 years from now, the Kubota Group has commenced the development and commercialization of products that can do more work more precisely, but with less energy.
We will continue to reduce CO2 emissions across the entire life cycle of our products, and at the same time, curb GHG emissions in society through the provision of products and services. Having set ourselves the challenging goal of net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, we intend to push ahead with initiatives to help us achieve it.
Future projections for population increase and economic development represent a significant opportunity for our business. However, if the world continues with the same kinds of economic activities as now, they could place a burden on the Earth that exceeds its capability for self-purification and its carrying capacity. This is a risk for the continuity of business activities. We will contribute to the realization of a sustainable society through our business activities and the provision of products and service solutions.
1. In-house CO2 Emission Control
(1) Reducing Scope 1 and 2*1 Emissions
The Kubota Group is continuing to implement energy-saving countermeasures and productivity improvement activities to reduce CO2 emissions from its own sites, with a focus on production sites. While we will continue to focus on these efforts, we are currently transitioning to fuels that have low CO2 emissions mainly by discontinuing the use of coking coal in the melting process at our casting plants and switching to electric furnaces. In addition, we are endeavoring to expand our use of renewable energy by installing solar power generation systems and purchasing green power and so forth. At the same time, as we reorganize and transfer our production sites, we will adopt production methods that have a low environmental impact and make other efforts to save energy and resources through production innovation.
(2) Controlling Scope 3*2 Emissions
Over 80% of the Kubota Group's Scope 3 emissions are generated during the use of sold products. Therefore, our efforts to develop products that can perform more work more precisely using less energy by improving the operational fuel consumption of our agricultural and construction machinery tie in directly to emissions reductions.
Through the robotization of agricultural machinery and the use of ICT, we are promoting smart agriculture. This is not only saving labor in agricultural operations, but also contributing to energy and resource savings. Currently, fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline are the main sources of energy, but we are striving to utilize fuels that have lower CO2 emissions, such as biofuels (e-fuel) and synthetic fuels. We are also actively pursuing R&D aimed at the decarbonization of motive power, such as electrification, hybrid systems, and fuel cells.
Also, in terms of measures for reducing emissions generated from the transportation of products, we are taking steps to improve load efficiency and drive a modal shift mainly by shipping products together and sharing the use of shipping containers with other companies.
- 1 Scope 1: Direct emissions by the Group itself
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from purchased electricity, etc.
- 2 Scope 3: Other indirect emissions (Emissions by others or at customers' sites related to the Group's activities)
2. Contribution to GHG Reduction in Society and the Realization of a Resilient Society
(1) Environmental Contribution in the Field of Food
In the field of food, including agriculture, the Kubota Group is working to increase harvest yields per area and the quality of crops by further promoting smart agriculture. The goal is to increase crop yields to meet rising food demand without increasing cultivated area. In addition to saving energy and resources primarily by improving operational efficiency and applying the right amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, we intend to curb deforestation and the destruction of nature for farm land expansion.
In other initiatives, we provide the farm water management system (WATARAS), which allows users to remotely and automatically control water flowing in and out of rice paddies while monitoring the water level of the paddies themselves. We are conducting trials of a “smart rice paddy dam” that temporarily retains rainwater in a rice paddy by enabling users to remotely increase the water level setting for draining water from the rice paddy when there is a danger of river flooding due to heavy rain. This is expected to serve as a way of preventing flooding and increasing the resilience of local areas to water damage.
For the future, we are looking at building a food value chain data linking platform from crop production, food distribution to consumption and supplying an automatic management system that uses AI. This would help visualization of demand trends, promoting a shift to “market-in” agriculture where production and sales are conducted in response to demand. At the same time, , it would deliver safe, secure crops with a high level of freshness to consumers, thereby helping to reduce food losses.
(2) Environmental Contribution in the Field of Water and Waste
The Kubota Group supports water infrastructure as a comprehensive manufacturer of water-related items from pipe materials used for water supply and sewage to engineering of water treatment plants. We use these technologies to provide resource recovery solutions, such as fermenting sewage sludge generated in sewage treatment plants and waste such as food residue generated by agriculture and food plants to extract biogas for reuse as an energy resource, generating electricity using the recovered biogas. We are working on projects that contribute to the building of a circular economy but which also helps lower CO2 emissions by curtailing the need to mine virgin resources from the earth by providing crushing and sorting techniques to recover such resources as metal and plastics from waste—a process known as urban mining—as well as melting technology that enables the reuse of incinerated waste residue.
As an example of reducing society's GHG emissions, the Kubota Group has delivered a waste incineration and melting plant (Nagano Regional Alliance/Chikuma Environment and Energy Center), which uses the thermal energy generated when waste is burned to generate electricity. Its effect of reducing CO2 emission is about 5,100t-CO2/year.
(3) Environmental Contribution in the Field of Urban and Living Environments
The Kubota Group is saving energy and improving operational efficiency on construction sites by leveraging our strengths in the water environment infrastructure business and construction machinery business. One way we do this is by supplying a smart water pipe installation system that helps optimal installation based on pipeline information.
In the area of construction machinery, we use a fault diagnosis app to reduce downtime of machinery that has a fault, helping to increase the efficiency of maintenance work.
Going forward, we will look at building a platform that aggregates underground pipe data to help in reducing construction time and labor for urban construction projects and so forth and providing a solution for extending the life and renewing underground infrastructure. These initiatives will also help to save energy in the construction field.
We will enhance the disaster resilience of urban infrastructure such as water supply and sewage systems by upgrading water supply and sewage facilities and river flooding monitoring and management platforms using plant information and sensors. Moreover, by appropriately operating these plants and facilities under optimal conditions, we will also contribute to energy saving.
Background in establishing the Environmental Vision
1. World Around Kubota's Business in 2050
Based on the scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), we analyzed a social image in 2050 when the temperature rises by 1.5℃/2℃ and 4℃. Global environmental problems, including climate change and water risks, may not only have negative effects on our company's operation in the future, such as soaring energy and water prices and frequent occurrence of natural disasters, but also further aggravate social problems in the “food, water and the environment” fields, which are part of our company's business areas. Also, the delayed responses to these environmental problems may pose a risk to our company's business activities. To continue our global business, we believe it is essential to strike a balance between business development that can contribute to solving social problems toward the achievement of SDGs and ESG management that includes responses to the environmental problems.
World in 2050
The world population is expected to approach 10 billion people by 2050, mainly in emerging countries such as Africa and Asia, and the food demand along with the population increase is also expected to increase about 1.6 times. Also, economic development can enhance the need to improve people's living environment, and can result in an increase in global demand
for energy and consumption of many resources. The same will be applied to water demand. Water demand will increase, especially in the manufacturing industry and for the use for power generation and for domestic use, and is expected to be about 1.6 times the current demand by 2050.
Increase in food demand and water demand, expansion of energy demand due to urbanization, etc., and cultivation of new land for food production may aggravate the climate change problem. Climate change can have a huge negative impact on people's lives. If rainfall patterns are altered, conventional crop production may become impossible as arid or high precipitation belts shift geographically. Weather anomalies may also cause populations to be affected by more frequent flooding and other water damage.
If we continue our current economic activities and social activities without efficiently utilizing our limited resources, such as energy, people's current lifestyles themselves may no longer be feasible.
A World Where Temperature Rise Is Less Than 1.5℃/2℃
We believe that to achieve the goals stipulated in the Paris Agreement, each country will accelerate their moves for energy-saving and the reduction of CO2 emissions, and strengthen related laws and regulations, which should result in a growing concern about climate change among markets and customers. This is why we have assumed that the needs for energy-saving, decarbonization, and electrification will be enhanced.
For example, tractors, combine harvesters, rice-transplanters, construction machinery, and diesel engines, which are our company's major products, are under application of the exhaust gas regulations of Japan, European countries, and the U.S., etc. Our diesel engines are also used for construction machinery, which plays an active role in the development of urban areas. In the future, since regulations for each country's engines may be tightened, we believe that we need to invest in the development of diesel engines that conform to new exhaust gas regulations. Also, if each country's efforts toward the mitigation of climate change are advanced, while the ratio of fossil-fuel power generation decreases due to strengthened carbon taxes, energy prices are expected to soar with an increase in the ratio of renewable energy power generation.
As calls for the environmentally sound performance of products grow around the world in connection with climate change, the needs for high-energy-efficiency products and solutions that enable the same effects should be enhanced also in the fields related to water treatment as well as the agricultural machinery and construction machinery that Kubota offers. In our business activities, we also believe that with a risk of increase in the energy procurement cost, energy-saving and expansion of the use of renewable energy will become important issues.
A World Where the Temperature Has Risen by 4℃
If the world's average temperature rises by 4℃, with the changes in the rainfall and climate patterns, weather disasters are expected to further increase, such as with the typhoons and torrential rains which have been observed around the world recently. Depending on the areas, it may be difficult for people to access the safe water required for business activities and livelihood due to drought. These weather disasters may cause a suspension of business activities, affect agricultural produce, and increase damage on the basic needs of people's livelihood such as water infrastructure.
For instance, in coastal regions and rainy regions, heavy rain or flooding may cause inundation of plants, blackouts, logistic suspension, and delayed shipping. Also, with increased frequency and length of these weather disasters, there are concerns over further expansion of damage. Even in the production of farm products, climate change is expected to have negative influences such as causing changes of arable land and a reduction in the amount of harvested crops, and may further affect the sales of agricultural machinery. Climate change may cause the occurrence of drought, which may cause the occurrence of risks for business activities, such as water shortages and restrictions on the amount of water in the relevant regions.
While climate change is expected to affect the changes of arable land and crop production, we believe that the necessity of agricultural solutions for continuing farming even under a range of climate conditions, and of smart agriculture capable of realizing efficient production in limited land, will increase. Likewise, we believe that contributing to the building of a natural disaster-ready city that can maintain people's living environment even after the occurrence of a natural disaster will be our important task.
- The above statements are the outline of the results of scenario analysis based on the proposals of TCFD for the examination of the Kubota Group's Environmental Vision. The world in 2050 may be different from each scenario. We will continue to improve our information disclosure based on the proposals of TCFD.
2. Expected Image of Society
As people's lives become more and more enriched, new environmental problems to be solved will occur in the future. However, we do not wish to have a new society at the price of the global environment. As a result of analyzing a future society image based on the impact of climate change, the Kubota Group believes that what society expects for us in order to make the world sustainable in or after 2050 is as follows:
- Realization of carbon neutral society aimed at mitigating climate change by curbing greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector
- Realization of resilient society capable of adapting to climate change, such as by preparing for natural disasters and dealing with water /air pollution and waste issues