High-level conference on sustainable finance

It's high time for sustainable finance

Berlin, 22 February 2018
European House, Unter den Linden 78, 10117 Berlin, 1st floor

The final report by the EU high-level expert group on sustainable finance (HLEG) was delivered on 31 January, the Commission, in the meantime, “responded” with an action plan on 8 March and the March European Council will need to take a stance on it as well. More than 2 years after the “Paris Climate Deal” and the entry into force of the “Sustainable Development Goals”, is Europe ready to take sustainable finance to the next level, making finance work for sustainable development and for protecting our climate?

This and other questions were discussed at the high-level conference on sustainable finance, organized by DIW Berlin and the European Commission’s Representation in Germany in co-operation with the German Hub for Sustainable Finance on 22 February 2018 from 12 pm till 6 pm.

You can find the summary of the conference here | PDF, 158.56 KB

Program

Welcome Note

The Representative of the European Commission in Germany, Richard N. Kühnel

Key Notes

- The Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis

- Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance, Michael Meister

Opening Debate – the policy context!

With an introductory note about the key findings of the EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance by its Chairman, Christian Thimann, Senior Executive to the AXA Chairman

Has sustainable finance reached the financial policy mainstream?

  • Will sustainable finance be a one-off topic or become a strategic issue for the Commission, the Finance Ministry and Central Banks?
  • Is “sustainable finance” just stepping in for a failing climate policy regime or are we moving to an integrated view of what is needed from the demand and supply side of sustainable capital to avoid catastrophic climate change?
  • No regret options only or 2 degree compatibility - what will govern the ambition level of (sustainable) financial policy?
  • Does Brexit increase the degrees of freedom for EU (financial) policy makers? Will we see German leadership – or are others like France taking the lead?

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission

Marcel Fratzscher, President of DIW Berlin

Christian Thimann, Senior Advisor to the AXA Chairman & Chairman of the EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance

Joachim Wuermeling, Member of the Board, Deutsche Bundesbank

Moderator: Kristina Jeromin, Head of Group Sustainability, Deutsche Börse Group

Session A: Finance for sustainability - the demand for sustainable finance from firms, households and the public sector: long-term policy signals; national “capital raising plans”; increasing the “project pipeline” - what is required?

  • How can policy decisions send a sufficiently strong signal to induce sustainable long-term thinking and corresponding investment strategies on the demand side?
  • What could be the role of the German public sector in green financing?
  • What is the role of sustainable finance instruments for the “real economy” to date? What is their performance (e.g. in terms of volatility and liquidity), what is missing?

Karsten Neuhoff, Head of Climate Policy Department, DIW Berlin

Bernhard Goeke, Head of Division Climate Policy, Federal Environment Ministry, Germany

Gerhard Schick, Member of the German Parliament, Die Grünen

Moderator: Karsten Loeffler, Co-Head of the Frankfurt School - UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance

Session B: The firm level: accounting standards; disclosure and reporting; governance of firms and financial institutions.

  • How do firms reflect long-term climate and sustainability targets in their strategies? Which role for accounting standards and governance processes and what are the necessary adjustments?
  • ubstantial uncertainty about climate regulation and climate impacts, how do they affect investment decisions? Will the role of Minimum Regret Options increase?
  • Which market features drive sustainable firm-level decision making?

Michael Schmidt, Managing Director, Deka Investment GmbH

Alexander Bassen, Member of the German Sustainability Council

Mirjam Wolfrum, Director Policy & Reporting, CDP Europe

Steffen Schwartz-Höfler, Senior Manager Sustainability Strategy, Reporting & Ratings, ThyssenKrupp AG

Moderator: Karsten Neuhoff, Head of Climate Policy Department, DIW Berlin

Session C: Financial policy and markets: benchmarks and sustainability ratings; banking, insurance and asset owners and their roles

  • Is financial policy ambitious enough? How and when are we moving from “do-no-harm” to “2 or 1.5 degree compatibility”?
  • What drives the take-up of sustainability ratings, indices and benchmarks?
  • Different business models of different financial market actors determine the role they can play. What is their potential and what is needed for them to exercise their catalytic roles in the sustainability transition?
  • Transparency, voluntary action and regulation – what’s the right mix? Do policies sufficiently emphasize the demand side and consumer choices?

Silvia Kreibiehl, Co-Head of the Frankfurt School - UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance

Katharina Latif, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Allianz SE

Gerald Podobnik, Global Head of Capital Solutions & Sustainable Financing, Global Capital Markets, FSG, Deutsche Bank AG

Moderator: Matthias Kopp, Head Sustainable Finance, WWF Germany

Closing debate – the outlook

Where do we go from here, who will take the lead and what can we expect from policy makers in Berlin, Brussels and around the EU?

  • What are the crucial next steps and how ambitious and quick can this Commission be? Will member states play along?
  • Signals from the financial sector are largely positive, so ambitious policy action should be less contentious! Right?
  • What is possible through the EU alone, what will need to happen at national level and what internationally?
  • (How) Will sustainable finance be integrated in the day-to-day work of Finance Ministries, the European Commission and Central Banks?

Olivier Guersent, Director General of DG FISMA, European Commission

Levin Holle, Director General for Financial Policy, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany

Chris Barrett, Executive Director, Finance and Economics, European Climate Foundation

Moderator: Christoph Bals, CEO, Germanwatch

Program of the conference could be downloaded here | PDF, 2.38 MB