The annual reassessment of the CR areas for action is a fixed element in our CR Management. The Corporate Responsibility Department continuously follows discussions in the public domain and assesses the positions of our stakeholders on all sustainability issues. An evaluation is then carried out using this information to establish whether the relevance of the areas for action have changed from the perspective of the stakeholders and from the viewpoint of the company. If they have changed, we assess how it alters their relevance. This is carried out in a process of intensive communication with colleagues from the various departments and the companies in different countries where we operate.
We have shown our assessment in a chart with a relative evaluation for each area from 0 to 1. In 2012, Germany in particular engaged in an intense debate about the energy transition and its consequences. Following on from discussion, the relevance of a number of areas for action changed, in particular for the assessment of stakeholders’ aspirations. Climate protection continues to be the most important issue. This theme will remain a major topic on the political agenda. The issue of climate protection also has a very high priority from the perspective of our company due to our high CO2 emissions (Climate Protection).
In 2012, the area for action Security of Supply underwent a significant increase in importance for our stakeholders in Germany. The resilience of the electricity grids and adequate reserve capacities of power stations were the subject of intense discussion. Security of supply has gained a high level of importance from the perspective of RWE, as demonstrated by investments in electricity grids and new, flexible power stations during recent years (Security of Supply).
The issue of a cost-effective energy supply has once again become the source of much debate in the public domain. The discussion mainly focuses on the additional financial burdens arising from the subsidies provided for renewable energies, the fair distribution of these negative consequences and the expansion of transmission grids, and to a lesser extent our own pricing policy. We have therefore raised the importance by one point from the perspective of our stakeholders (Pricing and Marketplace).
The increasing pressure on costs entailed by the energy transition is exerting a direct effect on our personnel policy. Some prospective personnel shortages emerged over recent years as a result of the demographic change. These are now being overlaid by difficult framework conditions for the energy industry and in some cases the shortages are being overcompensated. This situation has created significant challenges for our employees and for corporate governance (Employees and Demographic Change). The importance of this area for action is therefore undergoing a major increase from the viewpoint of stakeholders and from the perspective of the company.
Conversely, we have identified a slight decrease in relevance relating to two areas for action. Occupational Safety and Healthcare Management continue to be core elements of our corporate governance and the important management systems have now been well-established in our company. The focus of activities is now on group-wide implementation and continuous improvement (Occupational Safety and Healthcare Management). We have also put the importance of the area for action Supply Chain in context and corrected this area by one point downwards from the perspective of RWE. Taking account of all the aspects of the Supply Chain, we assess the relative relevance for RWE as not as high, for example, as Pricing and Marketplace.
We have not identified any changes in the other areas for action. As far as RWE is concerned, the areas for action continue to be relevant for the operational activities on the scale indicated. Energy efficiency is a key building block to achieve the climate targets in all the countries where we are operating. However, we have not observed any major new initiatives from governments or stakeholders. Innovation continues to play a key role for the future structure of the energy industry and in particular for moving the energy transition forward. Despite the general financial restrictions in the RWE Group, we will keep the level of the R&D budget the same as in the previous year. Equally, the assumption of responsibility for Community Engagement continues to form an absolutely essential platform for acceptance of the company by society. In 2012, we did not observe any significant changes in the expectations of our stakeholders and the assessment by RWE.