CDP Awards 2024: Celebrating the European giants making strides in the green transition

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On March 26, CDP recognised the most ambitious economic players paving the way to a greener continent at its awards in Paris.

CDP is a non-profit organisation that runs the world’s leading environmental disclosure system.  Europe is home to seven of the twelve companies in the world to feature on CDP’s A List for climate change, forests and water security, including Beiersdorf, Danone, Kering, Lenzig, L’Oréal, MM Group and Miquel y Costas. 

More than 24,000 companies, cities and states reported their environmental data to CDP in 2023, including listed companies that represent two-thirds of the world’s market capitalisation.

“CDP is forcing us to walk the talk because there are criteria that are super transparent and demanding. Each year, we compare ourselves to other competitors, and this dramatically changed the way we approach sustainability at Beiersdorf,” said Vincent Warnery, CEO of the company, which is a leader in cosmetic products. CDP is encouraging economic players not just to reduce their own emissions but to use their capital and procurement power to drive change. A large part of many companies’ CO2 emissions are referred to as “scope 3”, meaning they are indirect and can be reduced through a transformation of their value chain.

“Our scope 3 counts for around 80% of our emissions. We have more than 10,000 suppliers and we have to motivate them to reduce their emissions,” said Helmut Frieden, VP of corporate sustainability at Symrise, a CDP A List company and European leader in flavours and fragrances.

‘Move the money’

This year, CDP event’s theme was “move the money”. While achieving net-zero targets could require an annual investment of $4 trillion (€3.7 trillion) over the next 30 years, 70% of European companies are spending less than a quarter of their capital expenditure on the transition, according to a joint CDP and Oliver Wyman report released at the event

“Companies are seeing a lack of access to capital but investors say that green business models are not at the point of being scalable. So we need to break this green gridlock,” Maxfield Weiss, executive director for Europe at CDP told Euronews.

Cities are also looking to invest in climate-friendly infrastructure. The Finnish city of Turku, which is on CDP’s Cities A List, hopes to achieve carbon neutrality in 2029 to mark its 800th anniversary.

“Cities need more accessible and flexible financing. The funding is very fragmented at the moment,”  Minna Arve, Mayor of Turku, told Euronews. “Another issue is that the financing is generally for pilot projects and it’s not scalable. We also need support for large-scale investments.” The Finnish city has received support from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance some of its projects. Central banks and development banks play an essential role in ensuring the long-term economic stability of this transition, according to CDP.

Michiko Suga, European office representative of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the Asian infrastructure sector alone would need to invest around  $200 billion (€185 billion) annually just for climate financing.

‘The public sector can not fund all of this alone,” Suga said. “The private sector will only come in if they see that investing in climate and nature is more profitable than not doing so. So, we need to de-risk and create a profitable environment for the private sector.”

Reshaping business models

A number of manufacturers attending the event said our economies were not sufficiently conducive to green investment. Several participants called for more investment in the renewable energy sector. A representative from German steel giant thyssenkrupp told Euronews that the success of its future hydrogen steel plant would depend on the ability to build the right network.

“We are going to need a lot of green electricity and we can not provide that by ourselves,” said Ilse Henne, executive board member at thyssenkrupp. “We need energy companies to invest more in creating green energy so we can have green hydrogen and start producing green steel.”

To realign climate-negative financial flows to try and keep the 1.5°C threshold agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement within reach, CDP says that companies, financial institutions, cities and regulators also need access to high-quality data. The organisation is working to harmonise environmental data to make it comparable and usable.

“When you think about financial services, access to capital, what we are seeing is that investors are asking more and more about what data they need in order to make risk-based decisions. Disclosing data is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have,” said Sherry Madera, CEO of CDP.

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