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Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Industrial / Sustainability

Climate-friendly investments must not be endangered in pandemic response

By Andrew Sansom 27 Apr 2020 0

A consortium of 68 large German and international companies from all sectors of the economy have urged politicians to combine economic measures to deal with the coronavirus crisis with ambitious climate policy.

The call – described as the largest and most comprehensive business statement for ambitious climate protection ever in Germany – was issued as ministers of 30 countries convene over video link for the 11th Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD), which takes place on 27-28 April.

The UK, as president of the next Climate Change Conference (COP 26), will co-chair this year’s PCD. The meeting is expected to discuss a raft of measures that could pave the way for a green recovery from the economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributions will also be made by businesses, cities, NGOs and think tanks.

Through the alliance the businesses have themselves pledged to assume social responsibility in this situation and are prepared to play a central role in climate action, too.

In a statement, the group – which includes the likes of Allianz, Bayer, Deutsche Telekom, E.ON, GE Deutschland, Schneider Electric, Schüco International and thyssenkrupp – said the pandemic is revealing the vulnerabilities of the global economic system through a threat that cannot be contained to specific regions or industries.

“In this respect,” they warn, “climate change poses a comparable challenge; a challenge that, compared with COVID-19, we are better prepared to face.”

The statement continues: “Large parts of the economy from all sectors have already begun to gear their business models towards climate-friendly development, based on scientific evidence and a broad political and societal consensus. In doing so, they are investing in secure jobs, domestic value creation, and the protection of resources and human health.

“It is now essential to support the economy with short-term measures to help it on its way out of the corona crisis. However, medium and longer-term measures to cope with the effects of the corona pandemic must not conflict with the efforts of corporate climate action.”

The participating companies are representatives from all sectors of the economy, including heavy industry, chemical industry, mechanical engineering and vehicle manufacturing, the financial sector and large organisations from the building and mobility sectors. Together, they employ almost 1 million people in Germany and more than 3 million people globally, representing a global turnover of about €1 trillion Euro.

Sabine Nallinger, managing director of Foundation 2°, said: “Many companies from all sectors of the economy have already begun to make their business models climate-friendly, based on scientific evidence. These investments must not be jeopardised. The German Government should work with all Member States of the European Union to assure that there is no turning back from European climate policy.”

Prof Dr Michael Otto, president of Foundation 2° and chair of the supervisory board of the Otto Group, commented: “Understanding climate protection as a modernisation project for the economy can now play an important role in overcoming the consequences of the corona crisis – and, at the same time, help to avoid profound negative impacts of the climate crisis.”

Andreas Engelhardt, a partner at Schüco International, said: “Two thirds of the residential buildings in Germany must be renovated in order to meet our climate protection goals. With an ambitious climate stimulus package, which includes innovative products and ideas, the building sector can make a very important contribution to the recovery of the German economy. And, at the same time, create secure jobs for small and medium-sized companies.”

The coalition is calling for an ambitious design of the EU Green Deal to help lift the global economy out of the current crisis, boost innovation, and give European companies the tools to lead the development in sustainable technologies.