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Vollständiges Kapitel

Überblick

Das Pariser Klimaabkommen verpflichtet die Länder dazu, ihre Finanzflüsse in Harmonie mit den Zielen des Pariser Klimaabkommens zu bringen. (Artikel 2.1.c des Pariser Abkommens). 

Finanzintermediäre verhelfen der Erdölindustrie zu mehr Kapital, wodurch jene im Gegenzug trotz der Konkurrenz durch erneuerbare Energien profitabel bleiben. Heutzutage, fünf Jahre nach der Annahme des Pariser Klimaabkommens und dank alternativen erneuerbaren Energien darf das Geschäft mit fossiler Energie nicht weiter so profitabel sein - es wird jedoch von Finanzintermediären noch als profitabel bewertet und behandelt. Dies steht im Widerspruch zu der Sorge, dass es sich bei vielen dieser Wertpapiere um verlorene Investitionen (stranded assets) handelt und die globale Weltwirtschaft auf eine CO2-Blase (Carbon Bubble) zusteuert. Der Markt ist nicht einfach neutral. Risiken werden durch den Finanzmarkt falsch bewertet, denn viele Finanzinstitute haben intern keine Expertise bezüglich der Klimakrise aufgebaut und bewerten dementsprechend, Risiken im Zusammenhang mit fossilen Energien zu niedrig.  Auch werden die Chancen, welche alternative Kapitalanlagen bieten, verkannt. Viele Finanzinstitute haben ihre Verantwortung dem Klima und der Gesellschaft gegenüber lange verneint. Finanzintermediäre sind nicht nur passive Gefässe, durch welche Geld fliesst, sondern sie können aktiv steuern, wohin das Geld fliesst und haben somit eine grosse Verantwortung und Verpflichtung. Leider nehmen die wenigsten Finanzinstitute diese Verantwortung und Verpflichtung wahr.  

Symbolbild: Paradeplatz, Zürich.

Der Schweizer Finanzplatz mit Hauptstandort in Zürich und Genf gehört zu den wichtigsten der Welt. Zudem agieren in der Schweiz global einige der bedeutendsten Vermögensverwalter*innen. Unser Finanzplatz hat also einen besonders grossen Hebel in der globalen Weltwirtschaft und somit auch in der internationalen Klimapolitik - eine Chance und gleichzeitig eine Verpflichtung für die Schweiz, ihre Auslandsemissionen zu reduzieren. Wenn der Schweizer Finanzplatz sich nicht an das Pariser Abkommen haltet, dann wird die ganze Welt das 1.5-Grad-Ziel nicht einhalten können. Es entspricht dem Verursacher*innenprinzip, vom Schweizer Finanzplatz und den Regulatoren*innen jetzt bewusstes, nachhaltiges Handeln zu fordern. Im Vergleich zur europäischen Zentralbank (EZB), den umfassenden Reformen der EU bezüglich nachhaltiger Finanzwirtschaft (Sustainable Finance) und den proaktiven Massnahmen der Bank of England, bildet die Schweiz, vor allem gemessen an der Grösse und Bedeutung ihres Finanzplatzes, das Schlusslicht Europas. 

Wenn man von nachhaltiger Finanzwirtschaft (Sustainable Finance) spricht, wird die Kreditseite oft vernachlässigt. Während einige wenige Grossbanken viele Kapitalanlagen im Ausland haben vergeben kleinere Banken (wie z.B. Kantonalbanken) vor allem Kredite in der Schweiz. Auch hier sind Banken nicht nur passive Gefässe, durch welche Geld fliesst, sondern sie können ebenfalls aktiv Forderungen aussprechen. Des Weiteren kann auch auf der Finanzierungsseite allgemein von inländisch tätigen Banken mehr Engagement betrieben werden.  

Zusammenfassend kann man sagen, dass der Finanzplatz die Macht hat, den Wandel unserer gesamten Wirtschaft sowohl hier in der Schweiz als auch global voranzutreiben. Und mit grosser Macht kommt bekanntlich auch eine grosse Verantwortung.  

Die Massnahmen, welche im Kapitel “Finanzplatz” diskutiert werden, verwenden im Kern folgende Instrumente:

Divestment: Entziehung von Kapital aus emissionsintensiven Teilen der Wirtschaft, zum Beispiel Erdölunternehmen. 

Investment: Kapital wird gezielt in klimafreundliche Sektoren oder Unternehmen gelenkt, welche für die Transition der gesamten Wirtschaft zu einer CO2-neutralen Wirtschaft notwendig sind.  

Engagement: Wenn CO2-intensive Unternehmen nicht dazu in der Lage sind, selbst intern einen Wandel voranzutreiben, werden sie langfristig nicht am Markt bestehen können. Es ist vorzuziehen, dass die Unternehmensführung in diesen Bereichen aktiv den Wandel von sich aus angeht. Oftmals ist die Unternehmensführung jedoch zögerlich, den Tatsachen in die Augen zu sehen und neue Strategien auszuarbeiten. Aktienhalter*innen können aktiv ihre Stimmrechte und ihren Einfluss ausüben, um einen internen Wandel in solchen Teilen der Wirtschaft voranzutreiben.  

Transparenz: Ein grosses Problem ist die fehlende Transparenz betreffend klimaschädlichen Auswirkungen von Finanzflüsse oder generell Informationen über Finanzflüsse. Kund*innen, sowohl private als auch institutionelle, sind zu wenig informiert und können nicht bewusste Entscheide treffen, selbst wenn sie klimabewusst ihr Geld anlegen wollen. Informationen und Transparenz bieten die Basis dafür, dass Kund*innen bewusst ihrer Nachfrage nach nachhaltigen Finanzprodukten Ausdruck verleihen können. Aufrichtigkeit bietet auch die Grundlage für die Wissenschaft, die nur so aussagekräftige Analysen machen kann. 

 

Massnahmen

Massnahme 8.1: Rechtlich bindende Reduktionsziele / Anpassung der CO2 Gesetzgebung

Der Finanzsektor wird spätestens 2030 CO2-neutral. Neue Investitionen, Kredite und Versicherungsleistungen für Projekte und Firmen, die fossile Brennstoffe fördern sollen ab sofort verboten werden. Finanzinstitute müssen bin Ende 2020 Pläne für eine Dekarbonisierung vorlegen. 

At the fourth national meeting, the climate strike adopted the following demands, among others, by consensus (Klimastreik Schweiz 2019):

"We call for a reduction of the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of the Swiss financial sector to a net 0 by 2030, in particular a halt to financing, investment and insurance services for fossil fuels.

  1. From now on no new investments, credits and insurance services for projects and companies active in fossil fuel extraction! This includes coal companies, the tar sand industry, natural gas and oil.
  2. The financial institutions should present clear plans by the end of 2020 with concrete goals and measures to bring their financial flows (loans, investments and insurance services) to a net zero by 2030.”

These points could be anchored in the CO2 law as well as in the financial laws. The new CO2 law, which has now been passed but has not yet come into force, does not envisage any intervention in the financial sector today. Individual proposals that were part of this directive were rejected. This appears to be disproportionate.

Description

Concrete implementations of these demands by legislators and regulators could look like this

  • The CO2 law already sets reduction targets for other sectors. The majority of the emissions caused by direct and indirect financing of the financial sector are generated abroad, but here too Switzerland should anchor reduction targets for financial institutions for their scope 1-3 emissions in the CO2 law. More concretely, a complete reduction of all direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions through financing, investments and insurance services, particularly in fossil fuels, so that the financial sector reaches a net zero by 2030, should be enshrined in law.
  • All new investments, direct or indirect, in fossil energies must be prohibited. It is up to the regulatory authorities to decide how such a ban will be implemented and enforced and how much time will be allowed for this implementation.
  • Target agreements with individual financial institutions that are responsible for a particularly large number of emissions would also be desirable. These financial institutions would then have to prepare regular reports.
  • These targets should also be included in the Swiss NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) and communicated to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).
  • All financial institutions should be obliged to develop net zero plans: All financial institutions should be obliged to develop a company-wide climate strategy that leads to complete decarbonization by 2030. This should include both the exercise of voting rights of shareholders and engagement strategies.

Financing

No public funds need to be used to implement such regulations, or the wages and maintenance of the regulators' offices would have to be financed.

Impact

Such legislation is a clear and unequivocal signal to the financial world. The impact of this measure is above all the clear commitment to the decarbonization targets and the initiation of the necessary steps. Necessary steps in this case are climate compatibility tests, climate risk stress tests and the development of implementation plans, which of course differ for individual financial institutions. For any financial institution, this transition is such a major undertaking, which is associated with many uncertainties, that it does not even start. The impact of this policy would be to create a uniform and binding framework for all market players, thus overcoming the hesitation that has existed to date.

The federal government is already providing financial institutions with expertise and know-how. For example, the FOEN has developed a climate compatibility test, PACTA. These offers of the test are open today, but not mandatory for financial institutions; such legislation would lead to the federal government's expertise being used.

Social Compatibility

These laws would have an impact above all at the macro level. For example, it could be questionable what a sudden stop of new investments in fossil fuels could mean for workers in producing countries. This could be alleviated by targeted retraining programs. Investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency have a higher employment impact than the capital-intensive mining of coal, oil and gas. In addition, even independently of climate protection, these jobs are endangered by the strong fluctuations in oil prices and the financial market risks triggered by the carbon bubble.

Questions and Uncertainties

In realpolitik, it takes a long time for such laws to come into being and/or be implemented. It is far more desirable for financial institutions to commit themselves to these goals on their own initiative now and to develop action plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. The confederation and regulators must help them to do so, for example in the form of climate compatibility tests (see Policy 2) or through expert knowledge.

An immediate ban on new investments in fossil fuels, as explicitly called for by the climate strike, could come too suddenly and pose a particular challenge for large financial institutions. With reference to the literature on the carbon bubble (Clark 2015), one could conclude that this would cause panic on the stock market. "Immediately" should therefore reasonably and consistently be understood as "as quickly as possible". It is desirable that regulators work with the financial sector to work out a transition that is compatible for the stock market and the economy. The earlier this challenge is actively addressed, the better the chances are of avoiding major distortions that would cause the carbon bubble to burst.

Massnahme 8.2: Finanzinstitute zu Klimaverträglichkeitstests verpflichten

Finanzinstitutionen sollen einem jährlichen Klimaverträglichkeitstest unterzogen werden, dessen Ergebnisse veröffentlicht werden.

Description

The first necessary step for all financial institutions is to analyze the carbon footprint of their own financial flows. Financial institutions should undergo an annual climate compatibility test and disclose this information. Since 2017, the FOEN and the SIF (State Secretariat for International Finance) have been conducting voluntary pilot tests to analyze the climate compatibility of financial portfolios of pension funds and insurance companies (FOEN 2020c). This test should be made mandatory by law. The test should be mandatory for all financial institutions (banks, insurance companies, pension funds) and cover the entire investment universe, including loans and insurance.

The results of this test will only provide specific information about which scenario of temperature rise is supported by the respective portfolio (for example 2 °C/ 4-6 °C, etc.). However, climate risks and the associated physical and financial transition risks are also a threat to the stability of the economy (see information on Carbon Bubble in the section Current Situation).

In the UK, the Bank of England conducts stress tests on climate risks in the portfolios of financial institutions (Bank of England 2019). The FINMA and/or SNB should do the same as the Bank of England. All financial institutions should be required to perform such a stress test annually.

The Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and FINMA/SNB should collect these data on financial market stability and inform the public transparently about the results every year.

Financing

The measure could be implemented by the existing institutions (FINMA, SNB, FOEN). At best, the relevant departments would have to be expanded to include additional specialists.

Impact

Without a thorough analysis of the current situation, no targeted measures can be taken. The climate stress tests provide decision-makers within and outside the financial institutions with the necessary information basis for reducing the identified climate risks.

Social Compatibility

The measure should contribute significantly to the well-being of the population, since a sustainable and stable financial sector does not represent a cluster risk for the entire economy.

Questions and Uncertainties

It remains to be seen whether it makes more sense to delegate this task to the SNB or FINMA. However, this should not affect the impact of the policy, what counts is that such annual stress tests are institutionalized and conducted annually.

Massnahme 8.3: Institution für Grüne Investitionen

Eine Institution für Grünes Investment könnte die bestehenden finanziellen Mittel durch Investitionen in klimafreundliche Energieprojekte ergänzen. Die Institution für Grüne Investitionen ist dazu da, Fremdkapital für Firmen und Projekte bereitzustellen, z.B. in Form von Grünen Krediten.

In the Cross Sectoral Policies chapter the Climate Bank is described in more detail, the following policy is similar.

Description

The new CO2 law provides for a climate fund. Investments are urgently needed for the necessary building renovations, the turnaround in transport and not least the energy turnaround. Especially for the energy turnaround, public funds are needed so that new solutions, which already exist, can quickly enough establish themselves on the market. The climate fund is therefore a necessary step, but it is not sufficient. A Green Investment Facility could complement the existing funds by investing in climate-friendly energy projects (e.g. power generation from renewable energies, heating networks). The necessary funds and appropriate "Climate Agencies" which should receive them are explained in the Cross Sectoral Chapter as well as in the Transport, Building and Energy Chapters. The Green Investment Facility is intended to provide debt capital to companies and projects, for example in the form of Green Bonds. Thus, the market should become more attractive for private investors through public investments. Due to the still missing truth of costs caused by indirect subsidies for fossil energies and further hurdles for renewable energy sources, private investors estimate the risks as too unclear or high for corresponding projects. The Green Investment Facility can specifically create security for private investors. Furthermore, public funds are used responsibly by making them available as debt capital. During the Corona crisis, the Swiss government has proven that it is capable of a public-private partnership to effectively mobilize large amounts of private funds. 

The climate fund proposed by the ESPEC-S (Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Committees) could, as also proposed by the Commission, replace existing funding instruments such as the technology fund and the buildings program. However, the UREK-S proposal would only be effective in the medium to long term and would hardly help to achieve net zero by 2030. We therefore propose that the fund be filled up promptly, thereby triggering a green stimulus to counter the current recession. Economic measures are urgently needed in the current economic situation, and the federal government can thus provide targeted support for sustainable industries instead of pre-programming the next crisis with indiscriminate rescue measures for emission-intensive industries.

To ensure that the accelerated investments can be absorbed by the market, complementary measures should be taken (see Policy 8.11).

Within the framework of international treaties, Switzerland has declared itself willing to provide international funds for mitigation and adaptation efforts in countries of the Global South. This is currently done through the international Green Climate Fund. A Swiss Green Investment Facility could also mobilize private capital for mitigation and adaptation efforts in the international context.

Financing

There are various financing options available, which should be combined for maximum effectiveness. A transfer payment from the SNB is proposed. In the current situation, the Green Investment Facility is to be used as an economic tool, so the SNB is an appropriate source of financing. The current financing can be supplemented by earmarking part of the CO2 tax or an air ticket tax. In any case, care must be taken to ensure that sufficient funds are available at the beginning of the decade and that they cannot be invested only shortly before 2030.

Impact

The green stimulus that has been triggered can pull the economy out of recession again. As stated in other chapters, investments in energy system transformation, transport transformation and building refurbishment are now necessary if a consistent reduction path is to be followed, leading to net zero GHG emissions in 2030. In the medium to long term, private capital will also increasingly flow into technologies and infrastructure necessary for a climate-neutral society and economy. By reinvesting the proceeds of these initial investments, the effectiveness of the Green Investment Facility can be further increased over the years.

Social Compatibility

The Green Investment Facility (together with the Climate Bank) would primarily trigger accelerated climate protection investments domestically and thus secure or create jobs in the skilled trades and construction industry. In contrast, these investments could lead to a decline in employment in the oil and gas sector, which should, however, be less significant in net terms due to the higher employment intensity of the former, and which are also less likely to be located domestically. When investing in rental buildings, care must be taken to ensure that costs and benefits are shared fairly between landlords and tenants (see chapter on buildings). Due to their greater potential of land for renewable energy projects, rural areas could benefit disproportionately from Green Investment Facility investments, which would benefit national cohesion and social cohesion. At a later stage, the expertise gained in the context of Swiss development cooperation could lead to better services and support for these countries.

Questions and Uncertainties

The governance of the Green Investment Facility should ensure a balanced mix of technical expertise, democratic control and social transparency. Cooperation within the framework of a public-private partnership can increase acceptance of the new institution, but care must be taken to ensure a fair distribution of profits and losses between public and private shareholders. When designing the investment portfolio, it must be ensured that investments are mainly made in projects that will achieve emission-reducing effects in the next 10 years.

Massnahme 8.4: Übernahme der Grünen Taxonomie der EU E

Die Taxonomie identifiziert und klassifiziert wirtschaftliche Handlungen von Firmen der CO2-kritischsten Branchen nach Klimakriterien. Firmen können diese Taxonomie nutzen, um sogenannte “Grüne Anleihen” auszugeben, Finanzinstitute können in sie investieren. Solche Taxonomien bilden die Basis, um Finanzflüsse zu erreichen, die dem Ziel von netto null 2030 entsprechen. 

In order to be able to make sustainable investments, the financial sector needs a database. The climate-damaging and also climate-positive effects of companies are not always directly comprehensible. Emissions occur everywhere in the value chain of a company, which is why they are referred to as Scope 1, 2 or 3 emissions.

Financial institutions usually simply evaluate companies via their periodic financial statements. These do not contain any information about the climate compatibility of a company's overall economic activities. Financial institutions usually do not have the expertise to evaluate the climate impact of their financial flows. Therefore, financial institutions are required to perform climate change assessments (see policy 8.2).

In order to make it possible in the long term for financial institutions to competently take climate risks into account in their decisions without the need for such external tests, a classification or a so-called "Green Taxonomy" is needed.

The EU Taxonomy has developed a "Green Taxonomy", which has exactly this goal (Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance 2020). The EU Taxonomy identifies and classifies economic activities of companies in the most CO2 intensive industries according to climate criteria. These activities are examined whether they have a positive impact on the climate and/or a neutral impact on the climate. Economic activities that have a specific negative impact on the climate are not classified separately, so they are called "green" taxonomies, not "brown" taxonomies. Companies can use this taxonomy to issue so-called "green bonds", financial institutions can invest in them.

In the EU, this system will take effect from 2021. As in the EU, companies listed on the Swiss stock exchange and other large companies (e.g. over 500 employees and over CHF 500 mio turnover) should report EU Taxonomy compliant.

Financial institutions themselves, as companies listed on the stock exchange, would of course also have to do this. Such a measure creates more transparency and helps the financial sector to be able to invest specifically in the ecological transition of our economy.

Financing

For companies there will be an additional effort in reporting. This will also involve more time and costs. Even if the Swiss financial market does not adopt the EU Taxonomy as proposed in this policy, companies operating in the EU area will have to do so anyway. Costs are lower if you follow the EU regulations. Furthermore, all kinds of companies will have to start making thorough analyses of their environmental footprint anyway, so they should already have this data available.

Impact

Investment and Divestment are two sides of the same coin. Such taxonomies provide the basis with which net zero financial flows can be achieved. The impact of this policy would be accordingly immense and absolutely necessary for the change of our economy.

Even if these taxonomies are initially only binding for the European area, they have the potential to become a blueprint for the rest of the world.

Massnahme 8.5: Rechnungslegung für CO2

Um Transparenz innerhalb des Finanzsektors und für die Öffentlichkeit zu schaffen, sollen bestehende Schweizer Buchhaltungsstandards (z.B. Swiss GAAP FER) unter Berücksichtigung aller Bereiche (Scope 1-3) auf die Dokumentierung von CO2-Emissionen ausgeweitet werden. Diese Erweiterung soll ausserdem ein Kriterium für die Aufnahme in die Schweizer Börse werden.

In order to create transparency for the financial sector and for the general public, existing Swiss accounting standards (e.g. Swiss GAAP FER) should be extended to include the documentation of CO2 emissions, taking into account all scopes (Scopes 1-3). The inclusion of climate risks will thus be institutionalized not only for financial institutions, but for all companies that apply the corresponding accounting standards and are listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange. This extension should also become an admission requirement for the Swiss Stock Exchange. This would make carbon footprint analysis a standard practice and standard valuations would become a fixed part of it. On the one hand, financial institutions will be able to make informed decisions on the financing side, and on the other hand, listed companies will have to deal with their environmental footprint more intensively.

Impact

As described above, this policy would have the effect of ensuring that the debate on climate risks is taken into account more intensively and thoroughly within the overall economy. Climate risks, like liquidity risks or the financial statements of a company in general, should be considered holistically. Such a policy would aim to achieve this.

It would also improve transparency for the public and all stakeholders. Today, many companies have corporate responsibility or sustainability reports, but these are often primarily a marketing tool and contain little concrete information and figures, but all the more buzzwords. This does not yet guarantee transparency. In fact, these reports are often only used as greenwashing tools.

Open Questions and Uncertainties

Some companies are both part of the problem and part of the solution. Companies that develop and promote technologies that contribute to the transition of the economy as a whole are still emitting emissions today. However, it should be possible to show such efforts in the context of carbon accounting. Nevertheless, clear information and transparency are important to prevent greenwashing.

 

Massnahme 8.6: Klare Definition treuhänderischer Pflichten

Treuhänderische Pflichten müssen auf den Klimafussabdruck ausgeweitet werden. Das explizite Umschreiben von Gesetzestexten ist notwendig, damit Versicherungsunternehmen ihre Treuepflichten mit Rechtssicherheit ausüben können.

For all who manage foreign money, the so-called "fiduciary duty" applies. First and foremost, these are pension funds and insurance companies. Basically, this refers to a responsible management of the insured persons' money "to the best of their knowledge and belief". This means, for example:

  • Appropriate inclusion of risks and corresponding diversification of portfolios
  • Duty of information and transparency towards the insured persons

One of the reasons often cited why financial institutions still invest heavily in fossil energy is precisely this portfolio diversification (Kohli 2019).

It is precisely this diversification that prevents many from exiting the fossil energy sector. In practice, diversified investment or supposedly diversified investment is merely a reflection of the entire index. In other words, one tries to invest in everything, including fossil energy. The desired effect is that the portfolios do not suffer massive losses due to possible fluctuations on the stock market.

Unfortunately, the fact that the inclusion of investments in fossil energy to the extent that it is done today is negligent is strongly neglected. Because, as already mentioned, there is the danger of a carbon bubble. Other countries, such as France and the Netherlands, already require their institutional investors to include climate and ESG factors in their investment policy and to disclose their portfolios and the climate risks they entail transparently. Other central banks, such as the Swedish and British central banks are now actively pursuing divestment, partly because they fear risks to financial market stability.

Various legal reports, including an expert report from the FOEN, one from the Climate Alliance, one from the WWF and also an expert report from the UNEP-FI Initiative, come to the conclusion that, on the one hand, the fiduciary duty is too imprecisely defined and, on the other hand, it contradicts the fiduciary duty if climate risks are not included in the diversification of portfolios (Eggen and Stengel 2019; Abegglen 2018). (Sullivan 2015)

The legal articles in the BVG/LPP and other relevant laws should be adapted so that climate risks are explicitly mentioned.

In addition, institutional investors should exercise their voting rights at general meetings of Swiss and foreign companies and vote in the interests of the insured persons.

Impact

Pension funds and their trustees need legal clarity in order to be able to exercise their fiduciary duties. Insurance companies need to stay within the law when managing their clients' money, and given how important this money is, it is right and proper that they do so. It is described in detail above why this extension of fiduciary duty is justified. Its explicit rewriting in the legal texts is necessary so that insurance companies can exercise their fiduciary duty and have legal certainty.

In Switzerland, all investments are made in the second pillar. This gives pension funds an extremely large lever to help with the transition of the overall economy.

Social Compatibility

The fiduciary duty in and of itself is a matter of social security. Thus, the clear definition of the fiduciary duty improves social security.

 

Massnahme 8.7: Aufnahme von Nachhaltigkeitszielen durch die SNB

Nachhaltigkeits- und Klimarisiken sollten für die SNB höchste Priorität haben. Die Artikel der Bundesverfassung und Gesetzestexte, die die SNB betreffen, sollen durch das Prinzip der Nachhaltigkeit ergänzt werden. 

Description

The purpose and objectives of the Swiss National Bank are anchored in the Constitution and the law. The stability of the national economy thereby is the main objective of the SNB. The corresponding federal constitutional and legal articles should be supplemented by the concept of sustainability. As already explained in the Current State, the unsustainable and short-term oriented economy of the Swiss financial center is a threat to the stability of the entire economy. Sustainability and the climate risks should be a top priority for the SNB. This view is not shared by the SNB itself, as it sees itself primarily as a neutral and independent authority. It is questionable to what extent this positioning is compatible already with the current articles of the Federal Constitution. In the longer term, even after the climate crisis has been overcome and for timely recognition and pro-active action against future crises, sustainability and long-term thinking will be necessary and should be explicitly mentioned in the relevant articles.

The Bank of England has been doing this for years. The ECB (European Central Bank) and other European central banks are currently also moving in this direction, for example by actively pursuing divestment strategies.

Massnahme 8.8: Einflussnahme der SNB als Aktionär

Die SNB soll von ihrem Stimmrecht als Aktionärin Gebrauch machen. Als Top 40 Aktionär*in vieler Firmen, die CO2 verursachen kann sie daher potentiell einen grossen Einfluss auf die Unternehmensstrategie von Rohstoffhändler*innen und CO2-kritischen Firmen haben. 

An important term in the field of sustainable finance is "engagement". Engagement aims to ensure that large investors who own a significant part of a climate-damaging company actively exercise their voting rights and put pressure on the management of the company rather than selling the shares of these companies. Engagement, along with divestment and investment in climate-friendly financial products (e.g. green bonds), is an instrument that can be used by financial institutions for the transition of our economy.

Initiatives like Climate Action 100 pursue this goal (Climate Action 100+ 2020).

The SNB invests its money in a highly diversified manner, i.e. apart from a few human rights-related exclusion criteria, its investment policy tracks the major indices. The SNB is often among the top 40 shareholders of many companies that emit CO2 and thus potentially has a great deal of leverage on the corporate strategy of commodity traders and CO2-intensive companies.

According to its own statements, the SNB pursues an investment policy that is as neutral as possible, which prevents it from actively promoting the consideration of climate aspects by corporate management. It is wary of pursuing a climate policy. However, it is questionable to what extent the active use of voting rights or even divestment measures can be dismissed as climate policy when the stability of the entire economy is at stake, or whether the investment strategy, which the SNB calls "neutral", does not in fact show that the SNB is affected by the same market failure as the rest of the financial sector. The SNB is supposed to drive forward the transition of our economic system to one that is in harmony with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, because only in this way can it guarantee financial stability in the first place.

It is worth mentioning that other independent national banks, such as the Swedish, British and ECB, are doing this today or are committing themselves to it - on the grounds that it is part of financial stability and not a climate policy (Ambrose 2019; Gregory 2019).

Certain sectors, such as commodity trading or the extraction of fossil fuels, can no longer exist in a net zero world. If such companies are not able to drive change even internally, they will go bankrupt. It is preferable that the management in these areas take an active approach to change on their own initiative.

Social Compatibility

Many people are financially dependent on climate-damaging economic activities. In Switzerland this is the case in the raw materials trade, in countries where fossil fuels are extracted this is much more the case, because in such countries the whole economy is often dependent on this sector. Commitment is the socially acceptable way to reach the goal. Not all investors are big enough to get involved, therefore divestment is more recommendable in many cases. For institutional investors such as the SNB, this approach should be actively pursued.

Questions and Uncertainties

As mentioned above, engagement is a possible instrument besides divestment and investment. Other central banks pursue a divestment strategy, and we have decided to focus on engagement, also influenced by the fact that the SNB has in the past been strongly opposed to divestment. In practice, it is unclear how effective engagement actually is. There are significant examples where this strategy does not seem to pay off (Mufson 2017). It should also be mentioned that the SNB has a relatively small team of staff and experts. It is questionable whether they have the capacity to get involved. Of course, they are still free to work with experts in the field, such as Ethos (ethos n.d.) or SRP (SVVK-ASIR 2017), to name a few examples. But they are certainly able to pursue divestment strategies.

Massnahme 8.9: Klimatransparenz für Finanzinstitute

Finanzinstitute sollen Kund*innen transparent über ihren ökologischen Fussabdruck informieren.

Description

In order to comply with the information obligations of financial service providers towards their private customers, financial institutions should inform their customers about the CO2 footprint of the money invested by the customer. This could take the form of an annual report, for example. In this way, customers would be sensitized to the issue and receive information about the climate risks to which they are also entitled.

Impact

Many people are not aware of the issue. It is often very difficult to understand what their own bank account or insurance premiums have to do with the climate. The whole business is handed over to the financial service provider of their trust without really knowing what happens to it.

When customers are so ill-informed, they cannot even express their demand for climate-friendly financial products.

Financing

This would mean additional work for financial institutions, but in the future, financial institutions should anyway record and analyze their own ecological footprints much better and have this data available to them accordingly. In addition, increased regulation by the EU will certainly mean that this effort will have to be made anyway, so the additional effort should be kept within limits.

Massnahme 8.10: Bildung und Weiterbildung für Beschäftigte in Pensionsfonds, Banken und Versicherungsunternehmen

Alle Berater*innen und Beschäftigten müssen über Klimarisiken aufgeklärt werden, nicht nur in Bezug auf Investitionen, sondern auch im Kreditgeschäft. Als Teil einer Bildungs- und Weiterbildungsoffensive sollen Unternehmen im Schweizer Finanzsektor verpflichtet sein, bis 2030 jährlich 10% ihrer Beschäftigten zum Thema Klimarisiken weiterzubilden.

Description

The classic training of employees in the financial sector (e.g. Certified Financial Analyst, CFA) traditionally does not include a comprehensive examination of climate risks. Recently, the CFA training has been expanded accordingly (CFA Institute 2020), but still tens of thousands of employees of Swiss banks, insurance companies and pension funds are not sufficiently prepared for the central challenges of the future.

In the future, all consultants and employees are to be made aware of the issue, not only with regard to the investment side, but also in the credit business. Domestically active banks are mostly involved in the mortgage business. Here, too, advisors should be able to provide their customers with professional advice on topics such as building renovation, and the corresponding offers and tools that help with such advice should be expanded (eVALO 2020). Particularly in the lending business of domestic banks, training and further education should be expanded to include climate mathematics.

As part of an education and training offensive, companies in the Swiss financial sector should be required to train 10% of their employees in climate risks each year until 2030. Corresponding offers from universities and e-learning providers could be publicly promoted. The exchange of experience within the industry should also be intensified, for example by presenting regional best practices at learning roundtables of associations or companies.

Impact

Education and training is an instrument that allows our overall economy and our labor market to remain flexible and to react to market conditions and changes. The climate crisis is a very good example of a striking change that needs to be responded to. It not only prevents unemployment, but also contributes to the competitiveness of the Swiss economy.

Financing

Costs for education and training are covered by the rules both by the employee and the employer. It is highly desirable that the federal government supports this offensive with public funds, in view of the above-mentioned positive factors for the Swiss economy.

Massnahme 8.11: Steueranreize für die Grüne Säule 3a

Eine Grüne Säule 3a für die private Altersvorsorge soll eingeführt werden. Unterschiedliche Anreize könnten für dieses Programm eingesetzt werden, wie ein Bonus-Malus-System oder eine Erhöhung des Steuerfreibetrags für die Grüne Säule 3a. Gelder könnten auch automatisch in die Grüne Säule 3a investiert werden, sofern der Versicherte nicht explizit Gegenteiliges fordert. 

The private retirement provision via the pillar 3a is today tax-privileged, but without making demands on the climate compatibility of the invested funds. If these funds are invested in fossil fuels, this not only has negative ecological consequences, but can also jeopardize the financial security of old-age provision through climate risks. In addition to the standard solution, many investment foundations today also offer portfolios with an equity component (e.g. 25/50/75 % shares). Similarly, green investments should also be made possible and tax-privileged. One simple measure could be to increase the tax-free allowance for Pillar 3a investments in climate-friendly investment products. This measure could also be made revenue-neutral through a bonus-malus system, in which the current tax-free amount of CHF 6826 per year is reduced by 10% for conventional investments in Pillar 3a and increased by 20% for climate-neutral investments, and the tax rates are adjusted accordingly in the following years on the basis of the observed changes in behavior.

Financing

The financing is revenue-neutral for the tax authorities due to the bonus-malus system. The providers of conventional Pillar 3a products lose income, but they can compensate for this by offering Green Pillar 3a products.

Impact

The retirement capital tied up in Pillar 3a currently amounts to more than CHF 120 bn, with annual contributions of around CHF 10 bn (Schüpbach 2019). Increased investment of these funds in climate-friendly investments can have a significant leverage effect on the other measures of the Climate Action Plan.

Social Compatibility

A representative survey in 2018 showed that young people in particular (46% of those under 30) would be interested in a Green Pillar 3a (Cousse and Wüstenhagen 2018). With the Green Pillar 3a, this target group could already be actively involved in financing climate-friendly investments today instead of jeopardizing their future by investing their pension fund assets in a way that is harmful to the climate.

Open Questions and Uncertainties

The impact on tax revenues should be carefully monitored. If there is a major switch to the Green Pillar 3a (desirable from a climate perspective), the bonus-malus system should be readjusted in good time.

In an initial phase, small investment foundations, for example, could be overburdened with the offer of a Green Pillar 3a; they could be supported with targeted advisory services (see e.g. Policy 1.9 in the chapter Cross Sectoral Policies).

To be highly effective, the introduction of a Green Pillar IIIa would have to be accompanied by communication. This could either be done by the banks or the tax offices could enclose appropriate information material when sending out tax returns. A "Green Default" would also be conceivable, i.e. that funds are automatically invested in the Green Pillar IIIa unless the insured explicitly request otherwise.