PwC study on the climate reporting of listed companies

Reporting on the management of climate risks and opportunities is still at the starting blocks

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Nicolette Behncke

Nicolette Behncke
Partner and Sustainability Reporting and Assurance Expert at PwC Germany

Reporting on climate issues in the DACH region is disappointing

More than 95% of the listed analysed companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland now report on climate issues. However, when one considers the enormous challenges that climate change brings, the depth and quality of reporting on climate issues leave a lot to be desired. While most companies are indeed communicating their climate goals, few have developed a specific plan − with milestones and a roadmap − that sets out in detail how they intend to reach these goals and measure their progress. And the reporting about analysis and management of climate risks and opportunities are also still at the starting blocks.

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century and the dominant theme in politics and society. It is all the more disappointing that the climate reporting of listed companies still fails to reflect the magnitude of this issue. While the will to accept climate change is there, the implementation still sometimes falls short.”

Nicolette Behncke,Partner and Sustainability Reporting and Assurance Expert at PwC Germany

Overview of analysis findings

Almost all companies report on climate issues 

More than 95% of the companies in the DAX 30, MDAX, ATX 20 and SMI 20 report on climate issues as a matter of principle. Much of this information is included in regulated reporting elements such as the management report or the non-financial report. Almost 70% of the companies examined also use their websites to publish climate information. It is notable that climate information is seldom included in presentations to investors.

Major differences between industries 

In recent years, the scope and depth of climate reporting have increased significantly. However, depending on the sector, there are sharp differences in the quality and level of maturity: Particularly companies in sectors that have a significant impact on climate change and that have therefore been tackling climate-related questions for some time now − such as the automotive sector, the chemicals industry or the energy sector − have a more sophisticated and detailed reporting.

Specific roadmaps are often absent

More than two thirds of companies are already reporting on climate-related risks. However, to date the opportunities that can arise from changes in climate have only been considered by around half of the companies analysed, and only less than one in five companies (18%) report on the use of climate scenario analyses to show how climate-related risks and opportunities are identified and managed. 

Many questions also arise when it comes to the concrete implementation of climate goals: While four in five companies report on climate-related goals, only around 40% have linked their climate goals to a specific roadmap that sets out clear milestones, intermediate targets and measures.

“Most listed companies still appear to be unclear as to how the goals they have announced are to be reached and what indicators are to be used in order to measure progress.”

Nicolette Behncke,Partner and Sustainability Reporting and Assurance Expert at PwC Germany


These are the findings of a PwC Germany study for which the auditing and consultancy firm analysed the climate reporting of 130 companies in the German DAX 30 and MDAX as well as the Swiss SMI 20 and Austrian ATX 20. The analysis of the content was supplemented by a text analysis that was specially designed to examine reliable climate reporting systems by Prof. Dr. Alexander Bassen and Prof. Dr. Kerstin Lopatta from the University of Hamburg.

The Building Public Trust Award 2020

Today, winning the trust of investors and the general public is critical to a company’s success. For this reason, since 2016 PwC Germany has been conferring the Building Public Trust Award on companies with a highly transparent, credible reporting system that also tracks non-financial value drivers and performance indicators.

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Nicolette Behncke

Nicolette Behncke

Partner, Sustainability Services, PwC Germany