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Interview with Stefan Nünlist

Head of Corporate Communications and Sustainability on the company’s decision to join Swisscleantech

“We want Switzerland to have a pioneering role in sustainable development.”

“Swisscleantech” brings together companies across all sectors that share a commitment to a sustainable Switzerland. Swisscom represents a new and prominent member of the association. Why has Swisscom decided to sign up? And how will Swisscom get involved? Stefan Nünlist, Head of Corporate Communications & Responsibility, explains.
Roger Baur
Roger Baur, Corporate Journalist
05 September 2019

Stefan Nünlist, Swisscom has joined Swisscleantech – and now represents the biggest company in the association. Are the two a good fit?

Yes. In fact, they are an excellent fit! We have been working to make our company sustainable for many years and to contribute to sustainability in Switzerland. Here are just two examples: with the expansion of our ultra-fast broadband network throughout all of Switzerland's 2,200 communities, we are making countless daily commutes unnecessary. And as a company, we have only used renewable domestic energy to supply our own power for many years using water and, increasingly, solar energy supplied by our very own solar installations, which will soon number 80.

What criteria do you have to meet in order to join Swisscleantech?

Like every member, we too had to comply with Swisscleantech's nine-point charter. We also clarified whether we shared the same values – and we do.

So, why only sign up now?

Swisscleantech is still a relatively young association with a diverse membership and strong management. In principle, it pursues the same objectives as we do.

Which are?

For Switzerland to have a pioneering role in sustainable development. We have become one of 300 members from more than 30 sectors with whom we can promote an ambitious, credible and business-friendly climate policy. The ICT sector holds one of the keys to this. We are one of the few sectors whose products can save more CO2 than required by the sector. Having the best network in all communities in Switzerland forms the basis for this. In the future however, new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will also make a significant contribution to climate protection.

“In the future, energy will be used much more efficiently as components and systems talk to each other.”

Stefan Nünlist, Head of Corporate Communications and Sustainability

So let’s take a trip into the future. How could things look in 20 years?

I could give a long list of innovations and inventions – but it can all be summed up in one basic idea: in the future, energy will be used much more efficiently because components and systems will talk to each other. Networking ensures that people, vehicles, things and energy that interact with each other and within systems such as transport, the electrical network, in factories or buildings are in the right place at the right time. This will lead to another quantum leap in energy efficiency.

And what is Swisscom’s role in this development?

The efficiency gains achieved so far are the result of independent manufacturers improving their products. It now comes down to the interaction between individual components. For this, we need companies like Swisscom that are able to network and operate intelligent platforms. It starts with the socket: today’s electrical network is not yet very intelligent. You can change this, however, by connecting the electrical network to the data network, making it controllable and thus more stable than it is today. As well as protecting against blackouts, this represents the most important lever for enhancing energy efficiency.

How will this work in practice?

We start with ourselves, by reducing our emissions to the greatest extent possible. Even if this causes higher investment costs temporarily. We have also systematically improved the efficiency of our data centres, telephone exchanges and mobile phone transmitters: for example, we have been cooling our exchanges with fresh air (free cooling) instead of air conditioning systems for some time and are now also converting the mobile phone transmitters. In addition, we only use renewable energies to operate the part of the web managed by Swisscom. And we develop tools that allow our customers to make a difference too. With Work Smart, the Internet of Things or the intelligent use of mobility data, we provide our customers with effective tools for climate protection.

Does this membership not conflict with Swisscom’s membership of Economiesuisse?

We are and will remain a member of Economiesuisse: Swisscleantech focuses on clean tech and climate protection. In this respect, both Swisscleantech and Economiesuisse are very business-oriented. In some areas, Swisscleantech goes further than Economiesuisse. Swisscom will have to determine its approach on such issues and, like all Swisscleantech members, will be able to play an active role in the development and shaping of these approaches.

Is there no contradiction between being business-oriented and acting ecologically?

No, the Swiss economy is fully behind sustainable growth and even sees it as a geographic advantage. There are considerable opportunities for new jobs and new technologies. Swisscleantech sees business and the economy as part of the solution, not the problem. This attitude is in line with our convictions. A number of companies are also following our lead – as a company with a particularly long-term focus, we have introduced innovations in the field of energy efficiency and building construction that are now being adopted by others.

Pioneers for a sustainable economy

Swisscleantech is a cross-sector trade association that has been influencing political processes and developing market-oriented solutions since 2009. Its goal is a carbon-neutral Switzerland, a sustainable power supply and the establishment of climate-friendly business models.

For humanity, for the environment and for Switzerland

Swisscom has been one of Switzerland's most sustainable companies for a number of years. Visit our sustainability portal to find out what we have achieved already and how we are addressing the challenges for the future.

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Chief Communication Officer Stefan Nünlist has been Head of Corporate Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs and Sustainability since 2014.