OMFIF, the international forum for central banking and public policy, has started a major polling exercise to examine how German companies are facing the challenge of more exacting sustainability reporting standards.
The survey, being conducted by German polling agency forsa among a representative sample of stock market-quoted and privately owned companies, is a flagship initiative of OMFIF’s Sustainability Policy Institute. It is supported by the Association of German Banks (BdB), linking 200 German private credit institutions. The study will investigate how the corporate sector in Europe’s biggest economy is reacting to the European Commission’s 21 April proposals for a directive on corporate sustainability reporting. Results are due in June.
Along with the BdB, the OMFIF survey is supported by the Accounting Standards Committee of Germany (Deutsches Rechnungslegungs Standards Committee); law firm Andersen; Bertelsmann Foundation; Flossbach von Storch, a Cologne fund manager; and The New Institute, a Hamburg-based think tank.
Large-scale changes in European accounting standards are viewed as essential to the success of the European Union’s ‘green deal’. The issue will play an important role in Germany’s 26 September general election. The Green party – riding high in opinion polls – is on track to take part in, and possibly lead, a new government when Chancellor Angela Merkel steps down after 16 years.
The question has gained fresh political momentum after the German constitutional court on 29 April ruled that the conservative government’s climate protection measures were unlawful because they placed an unfair burden on younger people after 2030.
Merkel’s administration responded by deciding to tighten emission targets to make Germany greenhouse gas-neutral by 2045 rather than 2050, bidding to forestall undue Green party election campaigning on the issue.
The Commission has paved the way for a new system of accounting on environmental, social and governance factors. For the first time, reporting obligations will apply to all large non-listed companies. Countries like Germany with large numbers of moderately large companies in key sectors will need to bring in new standards of transparency on firms’ environmental impact as well as on their business models and strategies.
The OMFIF survey will deliver a benchmark report with rankings and data analysis, as well as interviews and roundtables with key participants and regulators. It will include material on company-level implementation of sustainability and ESG measures, including views on CO2 reduction, emission offsetting, biodiversity protection, energy management, waste reduction, circular economy and water management.
The report will cover sustainability strategies, goals and measures – including the influence of banks, investors, customers and employees. A central theme of sustainability reporting will be a report on corporate progress in assembling scenario analyses linked to the Paris agreement climate goals. The study will record companies’ reaction to banks’ sustainable finance offerings and it will investigate companies’ appetite for synergies between digitalisation and sustainability – massive priorities for present and future German governments.
- Benchmark report with rankings and data analysis, interviews and roundtables with key participants and regulators.
- Distribution to global audience of investors, banks and government institutions, with coverage in German and for international media.
- Effects of environmental, social and governance and climate change programmes on corporate activities and perspectives, including European Commission proposals – timing, social, client-related issues.
- Company-level implementation of sustainability and ESG measures – CO2 reduction, emission offsetting, biodiversity protection, energy management, waste reduction, circular economy, water management, etc.
- Sustainability strategies, goals and measures – influence of banks, investors, customers, employees, etc.
- Sustainability reporting including European Union taxonomy – also for larger non-quoted corporates – expansion of ‘taxonomy-conforming’ activities. Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive guidelines.
- Scenario analyses linked to Paris agreement climate goals.
- Banks’ sustainable finance offerings, including green bonds, sustainable linked loans – interest rate conditions and other factors, etc.
- Digitalisation and sustainability – synergies between related processes and goals, including political and social repercussions.