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German managers no longer consider green transformation a top priority

14 June 2024
General Interest

Sustainability issues have slid down the list of German managers’ priorities, a poll by business consultancy Horvath has revealed, Handelsblatt reports. The green transformation has disappeared from the list of top five challenges of the more-than 750 companies surveyed.

Instead, the managers named cost reductions, cybersecurity, skills shortages, digital transformation and securing liquidity. In 2022’s poll, making business sustainable came third. Insiders report that, in the absence of environmentalists’ protests, “board members feel vindicated in ‘shifting down a gear’,” the business daily wrote. Car company Daimler, steelmaker Thyssen-Krupp and cruise companies Aida and Tui Cruises are German examples of the international trend of pulling back corporate sustainability targets and postponing key projects, the article said, according to CLEW.

Handelsblatt said there are many reasons for the weakening of sustainability targets. “Companies are not keeping up with the technical implementation, and complain about inadequate framework conditions and a lack of green energy. As demand is also currently weak, many fear for their returns.” Two years ago, the dramatic spike in energy prices and the prospect of rising CO2 costs had pushed sustainability up the priority list, the article said. “Now the relative cooling of the energy markets means that the transition from fossil to green is moving down the agenda.”

One manager of a chemicals company told the newspaper that “medium-sized companies will be reluctant to achieve environmental targets, partly because a rapid switchover is simply too expensive in the current difficult economic situation.”

A manager from a mechanical engineering sector, who also did not want to be named, said high investments associated with ambitious climate targets cannot be implemented while many companies are forced to cut employees’ working hours. “If you are struggling with other issues due to a fundamentally weak economy, climate protection is simply not the top priority,” the manager told the newspaper.


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