Germany has more industry-leading sustainable companies than the United States, Britain and Japan combined, according to the 2013 S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Indices Review.
In five sectors -- autos, capital goods, household products, insurance and software -- publicly traded firms based in Germany dominated the 24-sector list compiled by S&P Dow Jones Indices and RobecoSAM AG. The firms, respectively, were Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW), Siemens AG (NYSE:SI), Henkel AG & Co. KGaA (ETR:HEN3), Allianz SE (ETR:ALV) and SAP AG (NYSE:SAP).
"Historically, it is fair to say that European companies have embraced and addressed sustainability topics sooner than companies from other regions," François Vetri, a spokesman for RobecoSAM, told International Business Times in an email.
The index's Thursday release comes at an interesting time.
Germany has long been the leader of Europe's -- if not the West's -- green energy revolution, levying a surcharge on its citizen's electricity that is slated to climb 20 percent in the coming months.
Chancellor Angela Merkel canned the country's nuclear power facilities after the Fukushima disaster in Japan and went full-force into what Der Spiegel, the country's most influential newsweekly, called an "aggressive and reckless expansion of wind and solar power."
By 2020, Germany expects to increase wind power production from 31,000 to 45,000 megawatts.
Not far behind Germany's five-sector-strong lead on the index was Switzerland, which produces nearly negligible amounts of wind and solar energy, instead opting for hydropower, nuclear power and thermal plants.
Three Swiss companies led the pack in commercial services, food and beverages, and pharmaceuticals, respectively: Adecco SA (VTX:ADEN), Nestle SA (VTX:NESN) and Roche Holding AG (VTX:ROG).
Australia appeared to be the other green trailblazer. Its companies led in banking, consumer services, food retail and real estate, respectively: Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ASX:ANZ), Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. (ASX:TAH), Woolworths Ltd. (ASX:WOW) and Stockland Corporation Ltd. (ASX:SGP).
Alexander C. Kaufman is a reporter at the International Business Times covering companies, retail and media. He joined in May 2013. Previously, he was an editor of...