The Decade that Matters

Study: Consequences of the Ukraine war for the expansion of renewables and the biggest obstacles on the way to the net zero target

According to BayWa r.e.'s representative study "The Decade that Matters 2.0", the pressure to act in the climate crisis is well known among the public, politicians and companies, but decision-makers nevertheless fear a delay in achieving the net zero target (= net zero greenhouse gas emissions). The study explores possible reasons for this and also asks about the effects of recent crises on the expansion of renewable energies.

The most important facts in brief:

  • BayWa r.e. surveyed 3,000 corporate and political leaders in the EU, the UK and the USA. In addition, public discourse was analysed with the help of social listening tools.
  • In the public debate, there is less and less talk of "global warming" and "climate change" and more and more talk of "climate crisis", reflecting the urgency of the issue.
  • Recent crises in the last year have spurred the development of renewable energy: 96% of all companies surveyed plan to purchase renewable energy and over half (53%) further developed their own sustainability strategy.
  • Nevertheless, almost half of the corporate decision-makers worldwide (47 %) expect the net zero target to be delayed by two to three years due to the Ukraine war.
  • In Germany, companies consider costs (44 %) to be the biggest obstacle on the way to the goal. Political decision-makers are more likely to cite technical hurdles and the speed of adaptation by companies and the public (35 % each).

"Fast is no longer fast enough": Public debate reflects pressure to act

BayWa r.e. published its first study back in 2021, focusing on analyzing the public debate surrounding the climate crisis. Two years later, its thrust is more topical than ever, as is clear from the terms circulating in the public debate. The study's creators used social listening tools to track how conversations about climate were changing. Toward the end of the 2010s, the term "climate change" displaced the buzzword "global warming" in online discourse. In 2019, "climate change" dominated conversations online, with six million mentions per month. However, since 2020, the more urgent "climate crisis" has been on the rise. This means the public is aware of how much the situation is getting worse, and with it the pressure to act.

Study video highlights urgency

"Fast is no longer fast enough," is therefore also the most pressing statement in the video that BayWa r.e. published to accompany the study. The video vividly illustrates the role played by recent crises on the road to climate targets.

Decision-makers in politics more optimistic than in companies

As part of the study, Censuswide surveyed 3,000 political and corporate executives in the EU, the UK and the USA on behalf of BayWa r.e.. The discrepancy between companies and politics is astonishing. Decision-makers in politics are optimistic about the complete switch to renewable energies in their respective countries: more than half of all respondents worldwide (58 %) are confident that the switch can be achieved by 2050. Far fewer, only 11%, believe that this will not be the case until after 2050, and only 1% think it is impossible. On the part of the business community, the picture of opinion is more pessimistic. Here, only a quarter of the decision-makers surveyed consider the complete switch to renewables to be possible by 2050. A good 32% believe that this will not be the case until after 2050, and 8% consider it impossible.

  • Infographic on the study: Politicians more optimistic about switching to renewables by 2050 than companies.

What are the biggest hurdles on the way to the net zero target?

Politicians and companies are also at odds on this issue. These are the most frequently cited reasons from the survey worldwide:

  • Infographic on the BayWa r.e. study "The Decade that Matters 2.0" shows the biggest obstacles on the way to the net-zero target from the perspective of policymakers and companies

Results of the survey in Germany

In Germany, the main obstacles cited by policymakers were technical hurdles and the speed with which companies and the public can adapt (35% each). Respondents from companies most frequently cited the cost of implementation (44%).

Ukraine war: simultaneous expansion of renewable energies and dependence on fossil fuels

The war in Ukraine has fueled the climate crisis in two ways. On the one hand, it has accelerated the shift to renewable energy, and on the other, it has increased short-term dependence on fossil fuels. Globally, 47% of respondents from companies around the world fear a delay of two to three years in reaching the net zero target due to the war.

This is what Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e., says about the climate crisis

"The climate crisis has global implications and does not care about recessions, politics, borders, or the rate at which humanity is adapting. [...] The direction is clear, but the pace is critical, as any delay risks further exacerbating the climate crisis."

Despite economic uncertainty: Now is the time to invest

According to the study, it is now more important to develop new habits than to break old ones. This is evidenced by how governments and businesses, even in times of economic uncertainty, are no longer just preparing for a clean future, but are willing to invest in it. They are actively seeking to transition to renewable energy sources and recognizing the opportunities it presents - in line with a public that is moving from debate and discussion to direct action. Companies that simply turn off the spigot in response to economic turmoil risk falling behind and even losing public support.

Read more about the study „The Decade that Matters 2.0“

Here you can learn more about the facts, figures and methodology of the study "The Decade that Matters 2.0" and get a deep insight into the survey results of individual countries.