When can the batsman change the strike?

Düsseldorf More and more entrepreneurs are looking to join forces with the students who demonstrate for a radical climate policy and call on politicians to act. "The federal government would have to do a lot more to protect the climate," says Niklas Östberg, founder of the digital company Delivery Hero, the Handelsblatt. "The few measures that have been taken have not yet been very effective," criticized the head of the ordering platform for food delivery services. Much more could have been achieved.

Östberg is part of a movement of more than 2,600 German entrepreneurs with a total of over 200,000 employees who are calling for politicians to take drastic measures against global warming. This includes a quick and complete switch to renewable energies.

“We shouldn't just always discuss the costs of climate protection, we should also see it as a great opportunity,” warns Östberg. "We could position Germany as a leader in climate protection, that would be a great advantage for us."

Basically, FDP leader Christian Lindner provoked the entrepreneurs to go public. “This is a thing for professionals,” the politician replied to the demonstrating students at Fridays for Future in the spring, somewhat like a teacher.

"Wait a minute, we're professionals in sustainability and we share the same view as the students," many business colleagues said to me, "remembers David Wortmann, owner of the consulting agency DWR eco. The idea was quickly born to show solidarity with the students with an organization of their own and also to make demands on politicians about what needs to be done to save the climate.

And the idea developed into movement: more than 2500 entrepreneurs are now members of “Entrepreneurs for Future (EFF)”, most of them start-ups or medium-sized companies. "We want to set a signal together and spread the protest against current politics," says Wortmann, who is one of the EFF spokesmen.

They received prominent support over the past week. Around 100 digital companies, including such well-known names as Zalando, Delivery Hero, Flixbus, MyMuesli and Mister Spex, have launched an initiative called “Leaders for climate action”.

"A CO2 tax would be the most important step"

"We have reached a crucial historical phase in which every step counts," warns Delivery Hero boss Östberg. "We demand the implementation of immediate measures for effective climate protection."

Both entrepreneurial initiatives have very similar demands on politicians, which are quite tough. Among other things, they want a predictable and increasing CO2 pricing for all sectors and a complete switch to renewable energies. The EFF are also demanding, for example, a kerosene tax and reduced sales tax on public transport in order to promote the mobility transition.

“A CO2 tax would be the most important step,” says Antje von Dewitz, owner of the outdoor outfitter Vaude, in an interview with the Handelsblatt. "This is the only way to ensure that products such as air travel finally cost as much as their true value."

The awareness that time is of the essence and that action must finally be taken has established itself among a broad population, observes the entrepreneur, who is involved with the EFF. Politicians must now do more to counteract global warming.

Many of the entrepreneurs at EFF deal full-time with the topic of sustainability, such as the socio-ecological GLS Bank, the organic store chain Naturata or the green electricity pioneer Enercon. But there are also big waste disposal companies like Remondis and Veolia, many small business owners and founders and also very traditional medium-sized companies who practice environmental protection out of personal conviction.

“Sustainability is a matter close to my heart. We are happy to take on the pioneering role in our industries, ”emphasizes Michael Hetzer, the son of the founder and spokesman for the management of Elobau. The company has been working climate-neutrally since 2010, and greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for up to the upstream value chain. All measures are coordinated by a sustainability manager.

The manufacturer of sensor technology and control elements for industry already put a free-field photovoltaic system into operation in 2010. Today it has an electricity quota of more than 100 percent, which means that it produces more electricity than it consumes.

In order to promote sustainability, the company is tweaking many small screws: for example, there has been a bike leasing program for employees since 2014, through which 100 bicycles have already been purchased.