The corona crisis is threatening to brush aside key discussions on climate protection. The Otto Group denounces such a development as it looks to assert its commitment to its ambitious environmental and climate protection goals. Together with Prof Dr Michael Otto, Chairman of its Supervisory Board, the Group is committed to keeping the issue both on its own and on the political agenda.
Just a look out the window these days shows us how urgent climate protection is right now. At the end of April, the sun is shining and hardly a drop of rain has fallen for weeks. Germany looks to be heading for another summer of drought. Even the temporary lockdown in many countries is not going to change the impact on climate. Better air quality in lockdown regions, endless blue skies with no condensation trails and clear water in Venice's canals – all alleged positive effects of the corona crisis on our environment. But is this supposed to reassure us? Because as soon as our world starts moving again, the climate problem will come back to hit us with force.
“The corona crisis is causing environmental issues to be completely overlooked at the moment. The first reaction to this may be to question whether we can afford climate protection at all at the moment. However, it is not so much a question of ability, but one of necessity,” explains Alexander Birken, CEO of the Otto Group. “Despite the virtual absence of any ongoing discussion on the protection of fauna and flora, we are not going to lose any time in achieving CO2 neutrality by 2030, nor will we be making concessions at the expense of the environment or even human rights,” Alexander continues.
The Foundation 2° – German Businesses for Climate Protection, initiated by Prof Dr Michael Otto, is also sending out a clear signal for climate protection with a business statement issued by 68 companies to the German federal government. In this statement, published on 27 April on the occasion of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Prof Dr Michael Otto, as spokesman for the initiative, stressed:
“We ask you to design economic stimulus programmes in a climate-friendly manner. Now is certainly not the time for a roll-back in climate protection. It is the time to consequently build on what has been achieved so far in terms of climate policy.” And Prof Dr Otto continues: "We as businesses will play our part in recovering from the impacts of the corona crisis and addressing the climate crisis. But we need you to provide us with reliable framework conditions. Let us work together to make our future economy a risk-bearing and climate-neutral economy.”
In essence, this business statement is a warning to politicians that medium and longer-term measures to cope with the effects of the corona pandemic must not conflict with the efforts of corporate climate action. It calls upon politicians to combine crisis management and ambitious climate policy and to support businesses with long-term economic stimulus packages and reliable framework conditions as they continue working towards achieving climate protection goals in line with the Paris Agreement. In this way, ambitious and smart climate policy can become a sustainable modernisation project for the economy as a whole.