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New taxonomy and EU standard for green bonds

In March 2018, the EU Commission launched its Sustainable Finance Action Plan. Today, on June 18, the European Commission’s Technical Expert Group (TEG) on Sustainable Finance published three new reports, an important step towards to clarifying and defining what is environmentally sustainable and in line with the Paris agreement which in the future will affect SEB's customers.

The documents are:

These reports will be discussed in Brussels at an open live-streamed meeting on 24 June. Additionally, a document with updated guidelines for companies on how to report climate-related information, the EU's Non-Binding Guidelines on Non-Financial Reporting, will also be published.

SEB's head of Sustainability Marie Baumgarts is one of 35 people who are part of TEG, and has worked on the new guidelines for reporting. She believes that a big and important step has been taken with the publication of the reports.

"The reports should be seen as new tools in the fight against the climate crisis, for investors and customers to be able to make long-term sustainable decisions," says Baumgarts.

"It is an extensive work that has been done, but we need clarity on how we define what is sustainable, how we measure and report etc."

The action plan on sustainable finance adopted by the European Commission in March 2018 has three main objectives

  1. Reorient capital flows towards sustainable investment, in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth
  2. Manage financial risks stemming from climate change, environmental degradation and social issues
  3. Foster transparency and long-termism in financial and economic activity

The report on taxonomy proposes harmonised criteria for determining whether an economic activity is to be classified as environmentally sustainable. This will also form the basis for future standards and labelling of sustainable financial products.

When the report will be adopted by the EU member states, companies with sustainable products and services will either have to follow the taxonomy, or report how the products relate to it. Large parts of the market will be affected as the taxonomy covers more than 600 economic activities according to the EU classification system, NACE.

"This covers all kinds of economic activities, such as within the transport, energy, construction, agricultural, waste and IT sectors. As a result, many of our customers' operations will be affected. Both SEB and many of our customers follow this development carefully," says Baumgarts.