Forslag til europaparlaments- og rådsforordning om endring av forordning (EU) 2016/1011 med hensyn til referanseverdier for lavkarbonutslipp og positiv karboneffekt
Proposal for Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2016/1011 on low carbon benchmarks and positive carbon impact benchmarks
Svensk departementsnotat offentliggjort 9.7.2018
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsforslaget, engelsk utgave)
Reasons for and objectives of the proposal
This proposal is part of a broader Commission's initiative on sustainable development. It lays the foundation for an EU framework which puts Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations at the heart of the financial system to support transforming Europe's economy into a greener, more resilient and circular system. To make investments more sustainable ESG factors should be considered in the investment decision making process to make investments more sustainable, when taking into account gas emissions, resource depletion, or working conditions. This proposal and legislative acts proposed alongside aim at integrating ESG considerations into the investment and advisory process in a consistent manner across sectors. This should ensure that all financial market participants (UCITS management companies, AIFMs, insurance undertakings, IORPs, EuVECA managers and EuSEF managers), insurance distributors or investment advisors, who receive a mandate from their clients or beneficiaries to take investment decisions on their behalf, integrate ESG considerations into their internal processes and inform their clients in this respect. Furthermore, to help investors compare the carbon footprint of investments, the proposals introduce new categories of low carbon and positive carbon impact benchmarks. These proposals, which are mutually reinforcing should facilitate investments in sustainable projects and assets across the EU.
The Commission’s package follows global efforts towards a more sustainable economy. Governments around the world chose a more sustainable path for our planet and our economy by adopting the 2016 Paris agreement on climate change and the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The EU is committed to a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability has since long been at the heart of the European project. The EU Treaties give recognition to its social and environmental dimensions, which should be addressed together.
The 2016 Commission Communication on the next steps for a sustainable European future links the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to the European policy framework to ensure that all EU actions and policy initiatives, within the EU and globally, take the SDGs on board at the outset. The EU is also fully committed to reaching the EU 2030 climate and energy targets and to mainstream sustainable development into EU policies, as announced in the 2014 Political Guidelines for the European Commission by Jean-Claude Juncker. Therefore, many of the European Commission’s policy priorities for 2014-2020 feed into the EU climate objectives and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These include the Investment Plan for Europe, the Circular Economy Package, the Energy Union package, the Update of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, the Capital Markets Union and the EU budget for 2014-2020, including the Cohesion fund and research projects. In addition, the Commission launched a multi-stakeholder platform to follow-up and exchange best practices on SDGs implementation.
Achieving EU sustainability goals requires important investments. In the climate and energy space alone, it is estimated that an additional annual investment of EUR 180 billion is needed to meet climate and energy targets by 2030. A substantial part of these financial flows will have to come from the private sector. Closing this investment gap means significantly reorienting private capital flows towards more sustainable investments and requires a comprehensive rethinking of the European financial framework.
In this context, the Commission established in December 2016 a High-Level Expert Group (HLEG) to develop a comprehensive EU strategy on sustainable finance. The HLEG published its final report on 31 January 2018. This report provided a comprehensive vision on sustainable finance for Europe and identified two imperatives for Europe's financial system. The first is to improve the contribution of finance to sustainable and inclusive growth. The second is to strengthen financial stability by incorporating ESG factors into investment decision-making. The HLEG issued eight key recommendations, which it believes are the essential building blocks of a sustainable European financial system. Among these recommendations, the HLEG considers that index providers should be asked to disclose details of the index's exposure to sustainability parameters based on the securities included within the index and their weights. At the same time, ESMA should include references to sustainability considerations in its guidance on the ‘Benchmark statement’ that should clearly indicate how sustainability (ESG) considerations, including the transition to a low-carbon economy, are reflected in the methodology of the benchmark.
The HLEG pointed out that indices and benchmarks have an indirect but important impact on investments. Many investors rely on benchmarks in particular in portfolio allocation and to measure the performance of financial products. While index providers have been developing a wide range of indices aimed at capturing sustainability and climate considerations, their significance in overall portfolio allocation remains limited.
To follow-up on the work of the HLEG and in order to contribute to broader efforts to connect finance with the needs of the planet and society, the Commission published on 8 March 2018 an Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth. In this Action Plan, the Commission announced forthcoming measures to enhance the ESG transparency of benchmark methodologies and an initiative to put forward standards for the methodology of low-carbon benchmarks in the Union.
The common standards for low carbon benchmarks would seek to address the risk of 'greenwashing', whereby all low carbon indices are being equally promoted as environmentally relevant despite having different characteristics. In addition, different levels of ESG transparency in the methodology make it difficult for market players to compare indices in order to choose the adequate benchmarks for their investment strategy.
In order to address the issues identified, this proposal puts forward an amendment to the Benchmark Regulation. It establishes two categories of benchmarks: (i) low-carbon benchmarks and (ii) positive carbon impact benchmarks.
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