Two out of three Spanish energy companies have a Sustainability Plan

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According to a report published by the Naturgy Foundation and Deloitte, the energy sector is extending its responsible management policy by assessing 77% of its collaborators with ESG criteria.

The energy sector was one of the first to implement management based on ESG criteria (environmental, social and governance). Today, up to 67% of energy companies in our country have sustainability policies and plans, with specific commitments to contribute and create value for all stakeholders. These data are from the ‘Contribution of the Spanish energy sector to new European social objectives’ report published by the Naturgy Foundation and drafted by consultancy firm Deloitte, presented today in Madrid.

Concha Iglesias, lead partner for Sustainability and Climate Change at Deloitte Spain and director of the study, presented the main findings of the report. She highlighted that “sustainability is a strategic pillar of the energy sector. Its strong ties to the territory, the nature of its activity and its proven experience in this type of initiatives motivate the sector to reinforce its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and a fair transition based on the 2030 Agenda”.

Energy companies implement 12% of the Corporate Social Responsibility projects conducted in our country, mainly in the field of energy vulnerability, job creation, preserving the environment, science, culture and sport. Nearly 50% of energy companies have specific plans to alleviate energy vulnerability.

The report quantifies the social contribution of Spanish energy companies, highlighting its positive social and environmental return beyond economic benefits and in terms of wealth, employment, quality of life, diversity, protecting people in situations of vulnerability, care for the environment, and other actions.

Statistical data were obtained with a comparative analysis of public data from up to 21 of the main energy sector companies in Spain, of different sizes, covering the entire value chain and representing more than 85% of the energy business in our country.

Leadership in measures to alleviate the effects of the pandemic

At the social level, the document highlights that the Spanish energy sector was one of the first to react to the coronavirus by mobilising resources and aid, with specific measures essentially for healthcare workers, customers and society in general, and with greater dedication to vulnerable groups. Its contribution is calculated to be more than 30 million euros in direct donations and action plans.

The report also indicates Spanish energy companies’ willingness to strengthen ties with society and with communities with specific sponsorship and social action initiatives in the areas where they operate, with investments of more than 85 million euros in 2020 alone.

According to the World Energy Trilemma Index 2021, the Spanish energy sector is one of the most sustainable in the world and ranks tenth among the 127 countries analysed. It is also a leader in Spain in preventing accidents at work according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy, and one of the most heavily involved in the sustainability of its suppliers: 77% of which are assessed with ESG criteria.

As for its contribution to the wealth and development of Spanish society, the energy sector is essential for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda. According to INE data for 2019, the energy sector directly contributes 2.8% of national GDP (around 34.56 billion euros) and generates more than 68,000 direct jobs.

During the presentation, Oliverio Álvarez, partner responsible for Energy Regulation at Deloitte Spain, moderated a panel discussion on the topic of the report.  Experts in sustainability and corporate reputation from the National Association of Energy Services Companies, Sedigas, Caixabank and Naturgy took part in the discussion, agreeing that “the energy transition must be social or it will not happen”.

Director of Environment and Social Responsibility at Naturgy, Nuria Rodríguez, noted that social criteria have been part of Naturgy’s strategy for a long time, and that the pandemic has once again brought their importance to the forefront under the framework of ESG management, which is at the core of the Strategic Plan for 2025. Rodríguez gave the company’s recent launch of its “Commitment” rate as the most recent example, which guarantees customers a pool price of 65 euros for three years.

During her speech, Marta García De Oteyza, Senior Manager of Responsible Banking at Santander, stressed that “the way environmental objectives are achieved cannot ignore social objectives”, and she explained the bank’s proposal based on profit with purpose. “We have made a business proposal based on the slogan doing well by doing good”, in which, for example, microfinancing plays a very prominent role in contributing to the SDGs.

Joan Batalla, Chair of SEDIGAS, stressed the importance of the territorial roots of the gas industry throughout its value chain, which contributes to the development of communities, and he highlighted renewable gases as a medium and long-term commitment for the decarbonisation of energy and for their social impact in the circular economy and creating employment”, especially in the framework of deserted Spain.

The Director General of the National Association of Energy Services Companies, Carlos Ballesteros, explained the role small and medium-sized enterprises play in complying with the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and called for the need for education and communication with society.

Oliverio Álvarez emphasised the role the sector can play in some key social goals. According to Oliverio Álvarez, “energy is a basic and necessary good for the development of communities and their economic systems. Social welfare, industrial competitiveness and the general functioning of society depend on a safe, reliable, sustainable and affordable energy supply”.

Pablo Zalba, partner responsible for European and Spanish Regulation and Public Policy at Deloitte, spoke of the main aspects of social taxonomy. He highlighted that “COVID-19 is promoting sustainability, from an environmental perspective, becoming one of the central cores in the transformation of our economic growth model. The pandemic has also proven the need to reinforce social sustainability. That is why we welcome the European Commission proposal to develop a Social Taxonomy”.

The presentation ended with a closing speech by Lucas González, Deputy General Director of the European Commission Office in Madrid, who delved into this institution’s vision of the importance of social taxonomy to unify the social impact criteria of investments.

María Eugenia Coronado, Director General of the Naturgy Foundation, which has already benefited more than 120,000 people with its social programmes, highlighted the social innovation programmes her institution is implementing to close the circle of a fair energy transition.

The report presented today is part of the Naturgy Foundation’s informative activities. All publications can be consulted at the Centre of Knowledge on its website. The Foundation, created by the energy company in 1992, also runs social action programmes, with special emphasis on actions aimed at alleviating energy vulnerability.