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EU: Commission releases first legislative package under Sustainable Finance Action Plan

In March 2018, the European Commission adopted an action plan on sustainable finance as part of a strategy to integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into its financial policy framework and mobilise finance for sustainable growth. In May 2018, the Commission released the first legislative package under the action plan. The four proposals included in the package are: (1) a unified EU classification system (‘taxonomy’), (2) investors’ duties and disclosures, (3) low-carbon benchmarks, (4) better advice to clients on sustainability. The European Parliament and Council will next review and agree on the proposals, with the enabling legislation scheduled to be adopted from late 2019.

For an open letter calling on the EU Commission to include human rights expertise in the technical expert group on sustainable finance, to which the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre was also a signatory, see here.

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24 May 2018

Commission legislative proposals on sustainable finance

Author: European Commission

In May 2018 the Commission presented a package of measures as a follow-up to its action plan on financing sustainable growth. The package includes 3 proposals aimed at:

  • establishing a unified EU classification system of sustainable economic activities ('taxonomy')
  • improving disclosure requirements on how institutional investors integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their risk processes
  • creating a new category of benchmarks which will help investors compare the carbon footprint of their investments...

Proposal for a regulation on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment

Proposal for a regulation on disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks and amending Directive (EU) 2016/2341

Proposal for a regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/1011 on low carbon benchmarks and positive carbon impact benchmarks

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24 May 2018

Principles for Responsible Investment welcomes legislative proposals on financing sustainable growth

Author: Principles for Responsible Investment

“The PRI warmly welcomes these proposals,” said Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the PRI. “The announcement signals opportunities for investment managers to develop new products for green assets as the world looks to transition from a high carbon to a low-carbon economy. The investor duties and disclosures proposal aligns with the PRI’s recommendations on fiduciary duty over many years and with the practices of PRI signatories. The taxonomy and low-carbon benchmark proposals will add essential tools to our market infrastructure in support of a sustainable financial system and capital flows to sustainable growth. The proposal on advice and disclosure to clients has the potential to put sustainability considerations at the heart dialogue with the clients and beneficiaries we all serve.”

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24 May 2018

Sustainable finance: Making the financial sector a powerful actor in fighting climate change

Author: European Commission

The Commission is today delivering the first concrete actions to enable the EU financial sector to lead the way to a greener and cleaner economy.

[The] proposals confirm Europe's commitment to be the global leader in fighting climate change and implement the Paris Agreement. The involvement of the financial sector will greatly boost efforts to reduce our environmental footprint while enhancing the sustainability and competitiveness of the EU economy.

Following up on the first ever EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, the proposals will allow the financial sector to throw its full weight behind the fight against climate change...

More investments will be channelled into sustainable activities thanks to new rules that define the criteria to determine whether an economic activity is environmentally-sustainable. This harmonised EU-wide classification system – or ‘taxonomy' - will particularly help investors who often do not have enough information about what is green and what is not. All financial entities that manage investments on behalf of their clients or beneficiaries will now have to inform them about how their activities are impacting the planet or their local environment. In so doing, these rules will give more choice to investors who wish to invest in the future of the planet while earning a return.

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