Vanessa Bolmer

Project Manager Pathways to Paris WWF Germany

The interview was conducted by Jasminka Enderle, Senior Sustainable Finance Expert, Green and Sustainable Finance Cluster Germany e.V..
Over the past two years, WWF and PwC have been working together on the BMWK-funded project “Pathways to Paris” to exemplify the transformation to a greenhouse gas-neutral economy, right at the interface between the real economy and the financial sector. The core of the project was the exchange of knowledge on sector-specific core measures, their opportunities and limitations, between around 90 companies and financial actors. In the course of the project, they shared important practical experiences on measure levers, technology availability and framework conditions. The result is three tools that will support companies and financial actors in the future:

  1. web-based transformation tool: This allows companies from the ten sectors covered to concretise and cross check their emission reduction plans. (Published in May 2022)
  2. transformation performance assessment matrix: it supports financial institutions in ranking chosen measures and the progress of a company. (September 2022)
  3. engagement guidance framework: enabling financial institutions to constructively guide a company’s journey and placing it in sectoral context. (September 2022)

For almost two years, you have been the project manager of Pathways to Paris, to design Paris-compatible sectoral decarbonisation pathways, which WWF Germany and PWC Germany are developing on behalf of the BMWK. How did you come to this role and where were you before this task?

Vanessa Bolmer: Originally, I am a humanities scholar and journalist, but then I discovered my passion for financial topics. For ten years, I worked in a bank with a focus on sustainable investments.
Then I came across this project. If we want to successfully implement the transformation, we have to break down silos, move forward without already knowing all the answers. The beauty of the project is that we work with companies in climate-relevant sectors and not against them. We see how individuals dare the balancing act between safety and trial and error, and then that is exactly what we want to achieve.

Pathways to Paris has developed a tool that allows companies in ten sectors to compare and time-sequence the savings potential and costs of different core measures and investments on the path to carbon neutrality. How has the tool been received by the market so far?

Bolmer: So far, when we introduce the tool or the indicators to the market, the response has been predominantly positive. “Bringing fragmented half-knowledge into a structure” – was a recent comment that sums it up quite well. Now we hope that both will take away the shyness of as many as possible to get started.

What approach was chosen by Pathways to Paris to develop relevant climate KPIs for the individual sectors?

Bomer: First, we checked various decarbonisation scenarios: Does the level of ambition fit? Which sectoral boundaries are used? Can it be broken down to the German region?
We selected Agora Energiewende’s “Climate Neutral Germany 2045” as the most suitable. On this basis, we discussed the requirements for the transformation and possible paths of the sectors with the companies, but also with colleagues from Agora and the Federal Environment Agency and derived the individual core measures from this.
Only then did we define the fields of action and determine which indicators can be used to make a statement about which path a company is on and where it is currently located.
This became very technical in the meantime. It was important for us to regroup with companies and financial institutions again and again so that the results would have the necessary proximity to practice.

“If we want to successfully implement the transformation, we have to break down silos, move forward without already knowing all the answers.”

Can the tool be seen as a kind of “Transition Plan creation tool”?

Bolmer: Absolutely so. In the current uncertainty, our tools are an easy entry point to approach the topic of transformation. What options do I have? What questions can or must I ask? How can I accompany this path?
We provide an indication of possible paths, show which measure has which effect.

Which role do the EU Taxonomy provisions take in the results?

Bolmer: We want to avoid additional work and are currently checking which frameworks our indicators are compatible with. With regard to the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), things are already looking good.
The alignment with the reporting requirements of the EU taxonomy, the International Sustainability Standard Board (ISSB), the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the EBA (Annex I) is still ongoing.

What development steps still lie ahead for Pathways to Paris?

Bolmer: At the moment, we are working intensively on the two project results, which are mainly aimed at the financial sector: There will be a matrix of metrics for assessing corporate transformation performance and guidance for engagement processes coming up in September. Now in the summer we are publishing a study on climate goal setting in companies. We wanted to understand the reasons why companies do or do not set climate targets. Furthermore, we will publish an overview of frameworks and methods around climate action, which should serve as an orientation guide in the multitude of possibilities. A How-To-Guide will help companies to move from the tool to a science-based climate goal and into concrete implementation.

Enderle: Thank you Vanessa for the lovely interview. We look forward to the continued collaboration between WWF and the Cluster.