As the European Sustainable Finance Summit gets underway, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Environment Minister Svenja Schulze are calling on European companies to invest more in sustainable economic activities. The first survey, published yesterday, on applying the EU taxonomy shows that just 2% of companies’ activities by revenue meet the taxonomy’s level of ambition for climate action and sustainability. With the recent introduction of Green German Federal Securities, the government has shown that an ambitious approach can also lead to success.
At the international conference, which started today, decision-makers from the world of finance, industry, business, civil society and politics discussed how sustainable growth can be financed at the EU and national level. The digital conference, which is being streamed live online, is taking place across Europe and has been organised by the Green and Sustainable Finance Cluster Germany in Frankfurt.
Olaf Scholz, German Finance Minister: “Climate change and protecting the environment are the biggest challenges of our time. These issues can only be tackled effectively if we work together. We have to make sure that money flows where it is needed and increase the relevance of sustainability in financial markets. Banks, insurers and investors have a particular responsibility in this respect, which is why our message is: invest more in sustainability and carbon neutrality! Transforming the economy towards greater sustainability offers huge opportunities. We need to grasp them now.”
Svenja Schulze, German Environment Minister: “In the coming years, it will be necessary to make substantial sustainable investments in infrastructure, facilities and technologies, as well as in the reorganisation of processes and in new knowledge. Investment is needed across all sectors, from energy and transport and the circular economy to water management and agriculture, and will have to be implemented on a global scale. Since the economy cannot be modernised without first being financed, the financial sector is a good barometer for the progress that is urgently needed. With the EU’s Green Deal, we have a European growth strategy with which we are not only protecting our environment and natural resources but also strengthening Europe’s economy, our innovative potential and our competitiveness. However, the European Sustainable Finance Survey shows that big companies still have a long way to go when it comes to achieving climate neutrality.”
Germany is committed to the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and works towards stability in the financial system. The German government therefore also supports the European Sustainable Finance Agenda, and has established the Sustainable Finance Committee in Germany. The state-owned KfW Banking Group is one of the biggest promotional banks worldwide and incorporates sustainability criteria into its activities. By issuing green bonds and establishing the associated reporting system, Germany is improving transparency on green spending in the federal budget and strengthening its position as a centre for sustainable finance.
The results of the first European Sustainable Finance Survey, carried out by adelphi and ISS ESG, are now available. The survey will be repeated in 2021 and 2022. The most significant results of the survey of around 400 of the biggest publicly listed companies in Europe are first, that with regard to companies listed in the Euro Stoxx 50, currently 20 percent of companies’ activities by revenue are taxonomy-relevant but only 2 percent of activities are taxonomy-compliant. This discrepancy results above all from the fact that the economic activities on which the revenue is based do not yet meet the level of ambition of the taxonomy (which is still in development) regarding climate action. Second, the results of the survey include a lot of technical information which will help with the further development of the taxonomy.
About the report
The insights summarised in the report build on an ISS ESG assessment of 75 listed European companies’ economic activities, written responses to an online questionnaire from 84 companies developed by adelphi, and in-depth interviews conducted by adelphi with 25 listed companies. Further, adelphi conducted in-depth interviews with six European banks to obtain insights into the current state of application of the EU Taxonomy to lending.
As of today, this survey is one of the most comprehensive empirical assessments on the current state of alignment of listed European companies’ economic activities and banks’ lending activities to the EU Taxonomy. The results help to inform the ongoing discussions on the EU Taxonomy at the EU level and to maximise the relevance and usability of the EU Taxonomy for key stakeholders, in particular listed companies and banks.
Download the survey report (pdf)
Consulting firm Sustainalize organised 3 webinars with the ins- and outs of the EU Taxonomy with speakers from the EU Expert Group. Watch them here!