There is probably no need to emphasise what exceptional times we live in. Society is changing at a dizzying pace and is able to adapt to pandemic conditions with unprecedented flexibility. The newly acquired capabilities resulting from rapid and complex changes are an opportunity for us to open a number of social topics that we have not been comfortable discussing thus far. Greening the economy is one of them. Part of society will naturally perceive it as a forced mantra but let us take a different look and consider it as an opportunity for improvement.
Circumstances have forced us to challenge the established order and our task is to give it a purpose. Let us, therefore, take this opportunity to make a long-term plan and ask ourselves how to lay the foundations for greener prosperity, more sustainable security and welfare.
The European Commission did not rest on its laurels over the summer and prepared bold plans in the field of environmental regulation. The Commission sees the future in hydrogen and, as part of its new strategy, plans to invest in hydrogen infrastructure. This and other visions were presented by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen within her first State of the Union Address: Europe should strive to further reduce emissions and considerable funds will be allocated to the transformation of affected regions and the support of green projects. The OECD also considers it important to keep the environment in mind when revitalising economies and calls for the restructuring of critical sectors. After all, the state of the environment has a significant impact not only on nature but also on the length and quality of our lives, as is clear from the latest report of the European Environment Agency.
Energy financing is a topical issue that affects the energy sector across the whole of the EU. For example, the Regulation on the Union Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism issued by the European Commission in September this year aims at raising funds to meet the Green Deal’s commitments. However, this is not the only way – companies can also use the opportunity to fund energy transformation through a very advantageous EPC method (Energy Performance Contracting). Learn how businesses and consumers are aware of the transformation of the sector and how energy leaders themselves see the transition to renewables.
The latest surveys and statistics show that investments into sustainable projects have been growing in the long term, also thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, it seems that ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) funds are more profitable than the traditional ones. The public sector is not lagging behind in aiding sustainable transformation; it is already possible to draw new funds on the Operational Programme Enterprise and Innovations for Competitiveness (OPEIC), which can be used for driving innovation and more sustainable businesses. At a European level, new calls in the Horizon 2020 programme were announced which should help fulfil the goals of Green Deal. In addition, the European Commission published guidelines that will allow member states to compensate certain businesses for indirect costs in relation to the greenhouse gas emission trading scheme after 2021.
Non-financial reporting is becoming an increasingly important tool. It not only shows the impact of a company on the environment and the social setting but also presents other important indicators that investors, employees and business partners are interested in. Nevertheless, it is difficult for companies to assess the business value of their social impact. We have, therefore, identified six areas where this influence is most visible. In addition, we have prepared three basic strategies to help companies transform towards sustainability. Last but not least, we have addressed the importance of ESG (Environment, Social, Government) and the reasons why companies in Central Europe still do not invest much in this area.