The Volkswagen Group has set new targets, aiming to reduce environment impact by a further 20% by 2025.

“For a long time, VW was to be found at the top of prestigious sustainability indices – and we intend to reclaim that position,” group CEO Matthias Muller said during a two day Group Environmental Conference (GEC) in Wolfsburg.

“It is our inherent mission as a group to make a decisive contribution to mitigating climate change and improving air quality in urban centres.”

Muller said it was “not just a question of clean and efficient vehicles; environmental protection in production also plays a key role throughout the group”.

“That is why we are setting new, ambitious targets in production. That means: 45% less energy, CO2, water, VOC emissions and waste compared with the baseline 2010.

“We are broadening our interpretation of environmental sustainability: it is not only what comes out of the tailpipe that matters. We must address the entire life cycle of mobility – from energy generation and raw materials down to recycling.”

The group is also following a recommendation of the Sustainability Council, a body comprising independent international experts which advises the group management board on the company’s [post-‘dieselgate’] transformation process. Speakers at the environmental conference included Georg Kell, founding director of the UN Global Compact and chair of the sustainability council VW set up a year ago.

“Our customers and society expect sustainable conduct from us”, Muller said, adding a “critical and constructive dialogue was important for the group in order to win back the trust forfeited as a result of the diesel crisis”.

“It is good that VW is opening up and engaging with external perspectives. Particularly where the environment and sustainability are concerned”, Muller told the conference. “We institutionalised that just under a year ago when we founded the sustainability council.”

Bernd Osterloh, group works council chairman, said: “Volkswagen must demonstrate a high level of commitment in order to reclaim pole position in the sustainability rankings. We already held the lead in August 2015. We forfeited that position – quite rightly – as a result of the emissions scandal. Our shared aspiration must be to return to the top of the rankings.”

Regular group environmental conferences were introduced in 1998 as a forum for some 400 environmental officers company wide to discuss strategies, measures and projects, and advance sustainable development.