The poisonous legacy of Dieselgate
  • EU reaches groundbreaking compromise to stop greenwashing of finance

    EU negotiators working to agree a ‘green finance’ regulation today left with an unexpected Christmas present: new rules for which financial investments can be labelled environmentally sustainable. After much posturing, and against all odds, the compromise struck by Finland, on behalf of EU governments, with the European Parliament and Commission has produced a very strong regulation that will drive the private investments needed for the transition towards a ‘net zero’ economy, Transport & Environment (T&E) said. 

    William Todts, executive director at T&E, said: “Today the negotiators heeded more than 120,000 citizens who told them to stand firm against greenwashing in financial services. The EU’s green standard will mean people can no longer be sold fake green investments. If we want to halt climate change we need money to be flowing towards good things such as electric mobility or hydrogen and not towards diesel, gas and dirty biofuels.”

    The regulation sets a legal framework for the EU’s taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities to be based on scientific evidence rather than political compromises. In particular:

    • The scope of the regulation has been extended to all investments, making it even more relevant;
    • The requirement to disclose how green investments are according to the new EU green standards has been extended to the issuers of bonds and to listed companies, alleviating the paperwork burden originally placed only on fund managers;
    • Also ‘transitioning’ activities – businesses that are not currently green – and ‘enabling’ activities (such as the production of steel for train tracks) have been differentiated from ‘green’ ones so that there can be no confusion for consumers.

    Once the EU’s climate taxonomies are published in 2020, they will be the most advanced and credible standard for green finance in today’s global capital markets. T&E said that with this regulation the EU establishes its leadership in the fight to re-direct capital flows towards environmentally sustainable activities and to end greenwashing of financial products.

    The compromise needs to be approved by member states’ ambassadors next Wednesday. T&E said it is hard to imagine any government will be willing to take the blame for killing this much needed law. On the contrary, the new regulation strengthens the credibility of the EU delegation at the Madrid Climate COP.

    William Todts concluded: “Once the regulation is agreed, we must ensure that the list of environmentally sustainable activities and their ‘thresholds’ are science based. We can’t have the gas and diesel lobbies rewrite the rules behind closed doors. T&E will work to make sure that is the case.”

    Once the regulation is formally approved, the actual list of environmentally sustainable activities will be drawn up by the Commission based on recommendations from a newly formed Sustainable Finance Platform – a group of experts made up of NGOs, financial market companies and EU agencies.