DK i MD Contact

By Michael Dembinski, chief advisor, and Dorota Kierbiedź, membership director, BPCC



COP28 once more focuses the world’s attention on the number one danger facing our planet – man-made climate change. As governments, business and NGOs sit down together to assess where we are and what more we need to do, Contact Magazine Online presents three interviews and 18 articles showing the climate issues from the point of BPCC members. Wrapped up within the overall heading of ESG, the E-for-Environment element focuses the mind of most business leaders. The introduction of the EU’s Corporate Sustainable Reporting Directive (CSRD) and what it means for companies is discussed in several of the pieces featured in this issue. As of 1 January 2024, larger firms will need to start logging metrics indicating their environmental performance. What does this mean in practice, in Poland?

The construction sector is responsible for nearly 40% of all human-generated greenhouse gases. Building, using and demolishing offices, factories, warehouses, shops, hotels and houses needs to be done with the climate in mind. We have several pieces on that too – and these feature in two of the three interviews and five of the articles.

Greenwashing – making out your product or service is better for environmental sustainability than it actually is – should be avoided, but where does the law draw the line? This is covered in this issue of Contact Magazine Online. The UN’s climate-change summit happens once a year, this is our time to focus on it, but it is our duty for future generations to change our behaviour, to trim back our consumerist lifestyle, and to bear in mind our footprint on the planet that’s our home.

The interviews

Arup’s CEO, Elżbieta Cichońska  sets out how the construction sector can make a vast difference in tackling the challenges of climate change, with an emphasis on ESG. Magdalena Szulc, managing director, Central Europe, SEGRO, talks about the need to keep the environment and society at the forefront of business leaders’ minds – and how this need affects the entire logistics supply chain. And Wojciech Szopiński from law firm CMS explains how to balance new laws and regulations with the imperative to run profitable businesses in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

The articles

We’ll start by staying with the real-estate & construction sector – after all, every business is located in some building or another, so let’s find out how we can reduce the carbon footprint of the places we work from. Tomasz Sasin from Gleeds Polska highlights the choices facing the sector along the way to 2050 – the year by which the EU is meant to have decarbonised. JLL’s Jakub Frejlich  explains the increasingly important concepts of ‘green premia’ and ‘brown discounts’ – which do your buildings qualify for? If your building is old, how can you make it greener? Decarbonising existing buildings is one of the greatest challenges of green transformation, says Marcin Machynia, who is involved with the Bonarka for Business asset, Kraków’s largest business park. Investors are focused on green buildings, says Michał Grabara, from Knight Frank, pointing to a survey of asset managers, which proves that ESG has become a key factor in investment decisions. Katarzyna Chwalbińska-Kusek from Savills points out the importance of the ‘S’ in ESG – how to quantify, and report, the social value of a given real-estate development.

And a propos of reporting, let’s move on to CSRD, and what this will mean to businesses as of the New Year. Non-financial reporting requirements are changing, and we have several articles as to what this will mean for businesses in Poland. Artur Rogozik and Michał Frąckowiak, at TGC Corporate Lawyers, claim that CSRD will improve the quality of decision-making by investors. Implementing CSRD is only effective if built around people, say Katarzyna Komorowska, Patrycja Załuska and Bartosz Siwiak from PwC Poland. Without employee buy-in, the necessary data won’t be properly captured, they argue. Bartosz Wszeborowski and Mateusz Krajewski, lawyers from PCS Paruch discuss the signifanct impact CSRD will have on the workplace sustainability agenda.

At the forefront of the dash to go green is the energy sector. Four articles consider the issues here. The European Commission published its action plan for grids to accelerate the pace of network development in Europe. Aleksandra Kurecka and Dominik Piechowiak from Linklaters looks at the details. Łukasz Ostas from Gessel says that green energy transformation won’t just be about building nuclear power plants and shutting down coal lines – it’s also about local energy communities.

The tax challenges for investors in Poland’s renewable-energy sector are explained by Piotr Paśko and Rafał Kran from MDDP. Agata Dondziak from Santander Bank Polska discusses sustainable financing, particularly how it affects the energy sector, as banks start shying away from fossil-fuel investments.

Greenwashing – the use of unfounded environmental claims for commercial gain – is tackled in two articles from lawyers. Joanna Barbrich from Kochański & Partners says that sustainability data must be standardised and readily comparable to minimise the risk of greenwashing, and that business should move in this direction even before regulations catch up with it. Weronika Nalbert from Wardyński & Partners explains how companies can communicate without misleading consumers or clients.

HR implications Anna Golenia-Wójcik, from Osborne Clarke Poland, and Rafał Sidorowicz and Karolina Demska from MDDP consider the tax and legal implications of introducing green HR strategies in the modern Polish workplace in Poland. Paulina Jarecka at Hays Poland considers the ESG-related specialisations in the global labour market, and how companies can identify and source candidates with the right green skills.

Collaboration drives better ESG and sustainability outcomes, but how can firms collaborate with one another without over-sharing information with their competitors, asks Monika Warniełło at Grayling Poland. And Bartosz Kordecki from advertising-service company Wunderman Thompson explains the journey taken by parent company WPP on its journey of ESG transformation.