Launch of the Austrian Green Finance Agenda?

On February 28, Minister of Sustainable Development Köstinger and Finance Minister Löger addressed the public via a press conference. At least by optimists the presentation of concrete measures to achieve the climate goals was expected.

To be honest - we were disappointed because we actually expected more. Instead of presenting the first measures of a Green Finance Agenda, only measures were presented on how to do the same. The press conference presented as a kick-off event was nothing more than a - again - starting signal. But we‘ve already had it – haven‘t we...?!

Staff Unit for Sustainable Finance

Background: Since February, the Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism has set up its own IV / 3 staff unit, which is to address the issue of "Sustainable finances and location policy". Michaela Seelig, who was previously responsible for Climate Change and Sustainability at IDB Invest and was able to acquire nearly six years of know-how in this function, was assigned to the staff management. 

With this line-up, the hope that it could now quickly become concrete, nourished. But the latest state of affairs is disappointing: Ms Seelig is to set up a working group to work with the financial industry to develop measures to achieve the climate goals of Paris. So far we have not progressed yet. 

A focus group with key players in the Austrian financial sector should therefore be set up, staffed by board members of the most important domestic players in the financial market.

Great potential in the financial sector

Federal Minister Köstinger rightly told the PC that the financial sector must also make a contribution, and Minister Löger also acknowledges with razor-sharp precision that the financial sector has great potential to contribute to climate-friendly initiatives. Sustainable investments are not only clearly in the trend, as it sounds from the ministerial offices, but there are for years professional and factual preparatory work on how sustainability can be lived and implemented by the financial sector. 

This is just as much a fact as the fact that the Austrian government has committed itself to the goal of a sustainable economy and society as early as 2015, with the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Therefore, the measures announced at the press conference at the end of February to create high-level working groups seem a bit out of time, as experts have already expected much more concrete steps and announcements.

Will strategy lead to success?

Alright, back to the workgroup. The argument that implementation at national level attaches great importance to a broad dialogue sounds good, but to date no other stakeholders have been involved. So the question is whether this strategy will be successful. Clear, prestigious is this access, only if it is effective is a good question.

Disappointed remain many experts from various professional associations, the ÖGUT, the VKI, the Federal Environmental Agency, .. and the consulting industry. They are well acquainted with the financial industry and would have been happy to provide their government expertise in implementing their Green Finance Agenda. But to date they have not been invited to cooperate. But what is not, can still become …