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Greenwashing of EU finance law sparks walk-out by experts


Five environmental and consumer organizations are pulling out of an EU expert group in protest at the European Commission’s decision on 21 April to classify certain forestry practices and highly emitting types of biomass as sustainable investments.

The Platform on Sustainable Finance advises the European Commission on the development of science-based technical screening criteria for sustainable investments. The Commission has selected 50 members and nine special observers based on their environmental, sustainable finance, or social/human rights expertise. The members include key EU institutions such as EIOPA, ESMA, EBA, EIB, in addition to NGOs, trade and business associations, academia and research institutes there are also a number of observers including: OECD, ESM and ECB.

The organizations claim that the new rules are not based on climate and environmental science and ignore the recommendations of the EU expert group on sustainable finance.

Luca Bonaccorsi, director of sustainable finance at Transport & Environment, said: “The taxonomy law was supposed to be the gold standard of sustainable finance. But the result has been the greenwashing of dirty cargo ships, gas buses, and logging and burning trees. Environmentalists will not come back to the process until the Commission comes back to science.”

NGOs Transport & Environment, WWF European Policy Office, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, consumer group BEUC, and eco-standards advocates ECOS are demanding discussions with the Commission to establish rules that stop the scientific basis of the EU taxonomy law being, to their minds, compromised further.

With a heavy heart, I announce today that I will be suspending my work on the @EU_Commission's Platform on Sustainable Finance on the #EUTaxonomy until the Commission has provided reassurances on an enhanced cooperation with its experts.

— monique goyens (@moniquegoyens) April 22, 2021
director general - BEUC, eu consumer organisation

The groups say decisions to endorse harmful forestry and biomass projects completely discredits the green taxonomy.

The Commission also decided to classify as ‘sustainable’ cargo ships burning highly polluting ‘bunker’ fuel and buses running on fossil gas. It delayed a decision on fossil gas as an energy source until a later stage of the process.

The five organizations have suspended their participation in the expert group to avoid a “cover-up” of further greenwashing. They called on the expert group’s members and leading MEPs to join their protest.

The Taxonomy Regulation determines which financial investments can be labelled environmentally sustainable. The actual list of environmentally sustainable activities is being drawn up by the Commission and is supposed to be based on recommendations by the expert group of NGOs, financial market companies and EU agencies.