ESG transformation / Sustainability

What changes will companies face?

Now that the seven-day incidence rate in Germany is dropping, the fight against climate change is making a powerful come­back on the social and political agenda. The German federal election campaign and a number of court rulings around climate change are adding to the pressure on policy­makers to move towards a stricter climate policy that will have direct consequences for German industry as a whole.

In spring 2021, as the second wave of corona­virus was subsiding, policy­makers started to re­address issues from the pre-coronavirus era. One subject that had been on the lips of policy­makers and society as a whole made a come­back – the fight against climate change. Although this topic had been suppressed by the COVID-19 pandemic for almost one year, it became abundantly clear in the spring of 2021 that the long-term and profound shifts within society towards greater aware­ness about global warming and the consequences of climate change have not really been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey by BUND, 86 % of Germans are currently willing to make significant cutbacks in their lifestyle in order to protect the climate. Even in the midst of the crisis, a significant majority of Germans called on the govern­ment to stick to its climate targets during the pandemic, according to a Deekeling Arndt/AMO poll. However, it is not only policy­makers who are being held accountable by the people in the fight against global warming. According to a survey by Ipsos, at least 63 % of Germans believe that companies let their employees and customers down if they fail to take action against climate change. According to a CIVEY survey, around 73 % of Germans are in favour of companies being legally required to do more to combat climate change. This is partly due to the fact that people are now in­creasingly aware of the effects in their day-to-day lives. The images of catastrophic fires in California and Australia only seem real when there is a lack of water in your own garden.

These long-term shifts in society also have an impact on policy­makers, especially at the federal level. In recent months, all parties have set them­selves very ambitious targets, as evidenced by the amend­ment of climate laws by the grand coalition. There will be no way of avoiding a more progressive policy in this area in the next coalition. Mean­while, the rise of the Greens and the high approval ratings for their policy approach reflect the social trend related to this issue. Irrespective of whether they win the chancellor­ship, it is highly likely that the Greens will form a substantial part of the next coalition govern­ment. This alone will have a power­ful impact on German industry and society, not least because it will force their coalition partner to show its colours on the issue of climate change.

Policy­makers and society as a whole are already voicing the expectation that companies make their values and attitudes visible and develop clear approaches against climate change and to increase sustain­ability, and will do so even more intensively in the future. In some cases, this represents a challenge to entire business models. In turn, this requires companies to become much more prominent socio-political actors in order to secure their own licence to operate. Only companies that pro­actively embrace this new role early on will be well positioned in the future.

  • The 2021 German federal elections will mark the end of the Merkel era and the beginning of a new chapter.
  • The social trend towards sustain­ability and combatting climate change is pushing all democratic parties to pursue policies aligned with these aspirations.
  • The Greens have the social trend on their side and are very likely to be part of the next federal govern­ment.
  • Sustain­ability and climate change will dominate the upcoming legis­lative period.

Companies need to address key questions related to sustain­ability and climate change in order to prepare for the period following the elections and to ensure long-term business success. These include:

  • What new regulations, rules and laws will affect my company and our success after the elections?
  • What expectations do my customers have regarding the sustain­ability of my company and what does this mean for its success?
  • What is the best way to meet emerging social and political expectations and maintain my licence to operate? 
  • How do I analyse and communicate the social impact of my business activities?
  • What business areas will become less profitable in the long term as a result of social and political changes and where will there be new opportunities for my company?
  • How can my company survive in an ecological and social market economy?

We would be happy to support you with our many years of experience and expertise in answering these and many other questions concerning the long-term security of your company and its success. In a time of great upheaval and changing expectations, we help you navigate difficult and complex challenges in communications and ensure legitimacy and acceptance among all stake­holders.

We provide you with effective support in restructuring to strengthen your resilience and in adapting to the new socio-political challenges. We make sure that we safe­guard your reputation throughout. We guide you through the process of (re-)aligning your company and communicating and anchoring your purpose both externally and internally. We advise you on how to manage the new pressure of public expectations and the hugely accelerated discourse processes. We guide you in building acceptance for your interests among policy­makers and in the pre-political arena.

You can find out more about the impact of climate policy on the energy sector, transportation, industry, agri­culture and food as well as the financial industry in our article titled “Klimaschutz als neuer Maßstab für politisches und wirtschaftliches Handeln – was verändert sich für Unternehmen?”, which you can download here as a pdf (in German).