The EU took a step towards greater transparency on the environmental impact of its financial institutions yesterday, as a crucial report was published by European Supervisory Authorities.
The report defines what information financial institutions will need to share publicly under the EU's sustainable finance disclosure rules. These standards underpin the EU's Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation by defining what information needs to be presented by financial institutions under the required disclosures.
The draft standards were published in April 2020, which was followed by a public consultation that closed in September 2020. Despite delays to the final report, some stakeholders affected by the Regulation have already been pushing for the implementation of these standards to be pushed back.
Julia Linares, Senior Sustainable Finance Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office, said:
“WWF applauds the European Supervisory Authorities for taking on board a wide array of stakeholders’ feedback. The final report presents, overall, a step in the right direction to carry out the ambitions of the Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation, although the failure to integrate as a mandatory indicator the degree of alignment of financial products with the objectives of the Paris Agreement is a missed opportunity.
We now urge the Commission to not succumb to industries’ calls for delayed implementation and ensure the swift application of these standards”.
WWF’s analysis of the final Regulatory Technical Standards report:
· WWF is pleased to see the inclusion of a mandatory set of adverse impact indicators on all sustainability issues, and additional indicators on climate, the environment, and social issues - meaning financial institutions will be required to report any harm their activities do in the listed areas.
· However, from the list of mandatory indicators in Table 1, the overall list has been reduced, mainly due to pressures from the financial industry. For example an indicator on deforestation was sadly removed.
· Current climate indicators (carbon emissions, carbon footprint, carbon intensity) for example are not sufficient to measure climate alignment against the Paris Agreement objectives. While it is positive to see Recital 15 focusing on the degree of alignment of financial products with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, it should be clearly integrated as a mandatory indicator in Table 1, as it is a requirement from the level 1 regulation (Article 4.2(e)).
· Another miss for the compliance of Article 4.2(e) of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation is the absence of forward-looking indicators in the proposed key performance indicators (both in Table 1 and 2) that would provide clear guidance regarding the climate alignment of financial market participants.
· The list of mandatory social and governance indicators is too limited, and not specific enough – more should have been done, taking into account a legislative proposal on sustainable corporate governance is coming out in mid-2021.
· WWF is very pleased that a requirement to comply with the ‘Do No Significant Harm’ principle on both Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation and the Taxonomy Regulation was included in the final text, which is a crucial step to ensure coherence across all EU sustainable finance legislation.
· WWF applauds the effort from European Supervisory Authorities to ensure comparability by requiring a mandatory template for the different disclosures.
The European Commission is now expected to endorse the Regulatory Technical Standards within 3 months of their publication. The European Parliament and European Council will then have 3 months to review the proposal.
The Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation will enter into force on the 10th March 2021.
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