Nfter the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, the impression remains that the world community is simply not making any progress on climate protection. This does not apply to German companies. But they, too, must step up their efforts to reach the federal government’s target of carbon neutrality by 2045. This is shown by the results of a survey by the state development bank published on Tuesday KfW among around 11,000 companies.
Accordingly, in 2021, around every fourth German company in this country spent money on climate protection. In total, the companies spent 55 billion euros on climate protection, around 13 percent of all private sector investments. “These are impressive sums and it is a good start, but more has to happen,” said KfW Chief Economist Fritzi Köhler-Geib. In order to achieve climate neutrality in Germany by the middle of the century, investments of around 190 billion euros per year are required, of which 120 billion euros are accounted for by private companies. “The level of ambition must therefore more than double in the coming years,” warned Köhler-Geib.
When asked about their motives, the companies primarily wanted to reduce energy costs with their climate protection investments. According to their own statements, they most often invested the money in climate-friendly mobility. This includes the purchase of electric cars and suitable charging infrastructure. Investments to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings follow, for example through thermal insulation or the installation of heat pumps. Projects for the generation and storage of electricity or heat from renewable energies came third.
Big companies invest more
Larger companies and industry were particularly willing to invest. According to KfW, this is probably due to the fact that large companies have more human and financial resources to deal with the issue. Large companies are also more likely to be pressured by customers to get involved. In industry, on the other hand, the often energy-intensive production processes created incentives for investments to improve energy efficiency. However, many industrial companies also see risks: More often than companies in other sectors, they see the goal of climate neutrality as a threat to their previous business model.
However, not everyone is aware of the challenges of the green transformation: 53 percent of the companies surveyed have so far anchored the topic of climate protection in their corporate strategy. According to the survey results, only one in ten companies is striving for the goal of climate neutrality. According to their own statements, 47 percent do not know the concept of climate neutrality at all or have not yet dealt with it in detail.
Despite the current energy crisis, companies are planning stable climate protection investments this year. The high energy prices provide incentives for switching to renewable energies and improving energy efficiency, explained KfW chief economist Köhler-Geib. But the uncertainty about the economic consequences of the crisis meant that companies were reluctant to invest.
In order to advance climate protection, two-thirds of the companies want politicians to simplify the planning and approval procedures, 60 percent consider additional funding to be important, and 56 percent call for more planning security with regard to the CO2 price. This shows that reliable framework conditions and economic incentives are “essential levers” for the green transformation of the economy, said Köhler-Geib.