Moving forward for a Sustainable Finance Action Plan

Under the umbrella of the Sustainable Finance Action Plan, EU bodies and expert groups have worked on (1) a final report on climate benchmarks and benchmarks’ ESG disclosures, and (2) the Taxonomy Regulation to foster sustainable finance

Sustainable Finance has been marked as one of the most relevant takeaways of the Juncker Commission, and it is already a key topic in the Agenda of President-Elect Ursula Von der Leyen. Members interested in following the ongoing activities on sustainable finance are invited to participate to the CSR Europe Workshop “Managing Corporate Climate Impact  on 13 November.

The need for a new generation of low-carbon benchmarks to boost investment in sustainable projects and assets led the Technical Expert Group (TEG) on Sustainable Finance to investigate the issue. In its Final Report on climate benchmarks and benchmarks’ ESG disclosures, TEG aimed at:

  1. Tackling the lack of harmonisation of the methodologies allowing a significant level of comparability of climate benchmarks methodologies while leaving benchmarks’ administrators with an important level of flexibility in designing their methodologies
  2. Providing investors with an appropriate tool that is aligned with their investment strategy
  3. Increase transparency on investors’ impact, specifically with regard to climate change and the energy transition
  4. Preventing greenwashing – the practice of financial products being marketed as ‘green’ or more generally ‘sustainable’, when in fact they do not meet basic environmental standards.

 

At the same time, the Regulation on the EU Taxonomy has seen some steps forward. The Council and the Parliament have completed their first reading of the Commission’s proposal and the trilateral negotiations among institutions have started. In other words, the three EU institutions will try to reach a compromise on the final version of the document. Despite the alignment on a large part of the proposal, some political topics remain open for confrontation.

 

While the Council highlighted the need to give businesses and investors the time to adapt to the new rules, extending the time between the adoption of the Regulation and the moment in which the document becomes binding, the Parliament and the Commission proposed to keep it to 6 months.

 

Moreover, the Council wishes to keep leverage on the evolution of the criteria behind the Taxonomy through the establishment of a Member States Expert Group to advise the Commission on the appropriateness of these criteria.  

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