Bærekraftig økonomi: finansiering av overgangen
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsrekommandasjonen)
(1) The transition to a sustainable economy by 2050 is challenging but also offers opportunities for the Union economy. Investing in the green transition will help make Europe the first climate-neutral continent with a sustainable economy.
(2) Urgent action is needed in this decade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% and reach our environmental objectives, particularly those related to the nature and water crises, by 2030. The Union will need to invest about EUR 700 billion more each year from 2021 to 2030 than it did from 2011 to 2020 to decarbonise its economy, achieve its environmental objectives1 and those of the proposed Net Zero Industry Act.
(3) Finance for the transition to a climate-neutral and sustainable economy is needed today for those undertakings that want to become sustainable but cannot shift in one step to a fully environment-friendly, climate-neutral performance model. Transition finance will be necessary over the coming years to ensure a timely and orderly transition of the real economy towards sustainability while ensuring the competitiveness of the EU economy. Not all technologies are yet available for a sustainable economy and economic actors can reach these objectives at different pace.
(4) Sustainable finance is about financing both what is already environment-friendly and what is transitioning to such performance levels over time. The level of sustainable investments is set to increase over time, as the transition progresses.
(5) Although the Union’s legal framework does not define the concept of transition finance, transition finance should be understood as the financing of climate- and environmental performance improvements to transition towards a sustainable economy, at a pace that is compatible with the climate and environmental objectives of the EU.
(6) The EU sustainable finance framework, including Regulation (EU) 2020/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council, methodologies set out in Regulation (EU) 2019/2089 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directive (EU) 2022/2464 of the European Parliament and of the Council and the proposal for the European Green Bond Regulation contain safeguards and principles that can further inform what constitutes transition finance.
(7) Financing the transition to a climate-neutral and sustainable economy is at the core of the Commission’s Communication of 2021 on a Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy, which outlines the need for an inclusive approach to sustainable finance regardless of sectors, geographies, actors and the different starting points in the transition.
(8) This Recommendation clarifies the concept of transition finance, acknowledging the significant role that market participants can play by voluntarily using tools from the Union sustainable finance framework, as needed, for transition finance.
(9) Undertakings, financial intermediaries and investors, Member States and supervisory authorities could raise, provide or approach transition finance through the voluntary use of sustainable finance tools as set out in this Recommendation.
(10) This Recommendation aims to support transition finance in a trusted environment for investors through encouraging the voluntary use of sustainable finance tools and disclosures in ways that can ensure the credibility of transition investment opportunities.
(11) This Recommendation builds on the Union sustainable finance framework and on elements from leading international initiatives for transition finance such as the OECD Guidance on Transition Finance8, the G20 Framework for Transition Finance, the Report on Transition Finance of the International Platform on Sustainable Finance and the Report of the United Nations High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities. Therefore, international investors following this Recommendation should be able to match the main aspects of their transition targets and financing needs with international market practice.
(12) The transition to reach the objectives of the European Green Deal includes the transition to climate neutrality by 2050, with the aim of limiting climate change to 1.5 °C global warming in line with the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the transition to a climate-resilient economy, and the transition towards an environmentally sustainable economy, namely a circular, zero pollution, nature-positive economy and sustainable use of water and marine resources.
(13) Market participants can apply this Recommendation to both the climate and environmental transition.
(14) Undertakings (including both non-financial and financial undertakings) might have different starting points in the transition to sustainability, depending on various factors, such as the sectors and geographies in which they are active. Undertakings also have different possibilities and capabilities to transition, depending on their size, financial and physical resources available or the availability of infrastructure and technologies. As a result, undertakings will have different financing needs.
(15) The use of transition finance is voluntary. Not all undertakings, and not all economic sectors, have significant climate- or environmental transition finance needs. But where impacts can be reduced and are being reduced, that improvement should be recognised and financing for it should be facilitated.
(16) Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) might need to finance their transition, and where this is the case, they could benefit from obtaining transition finance by providing key sustainability information. However, due to their size and more limited resources, this can be difficult and costly. SMEs might need the support of their financing partners, suppliers and customers in their value chain when considering their transition finance needs and accessing transition finance in practice. Large corporate and financial intermediaries are encouraged to apply the principle of proportionality when engaging with SMEs and to exercise restraint when requesting information from SME value chain partners, suppliers and customers.
(17) Transition finance can also help finance the transition of undertakings that operate in sectors that are the most affected by the transition to a sustainable economy. For example, new investments and related capital expenditure of such undertakings can be compatible with the transition to meet Union climate and environmental objectives.
(18) Needs for transition finance can be determined by planning ahead and setting transition targets. This can be done, for instance, by setting out the company’s short-, medium- and long-term targets and actions in line with the transition to a climate neutral and sustainable economy, and investment and action plans that indicate the resources that have been allocated and the resources that are still needed, to ensure that the targets are reached and actions are planned and implemented in a transparent, credible and consistent way. This can be done at both company level and activity level, depending on where the need for transition finance arises.
(19) Transition planning, which is the process by which undertakings translate their environmental and climate ambitions into actions, can help undertakings minimise the strategic and financial risks associated with the transition, identify business opportunities, and provide clarity on their business strategy which can attract new investors and business partners.
(20) But undertakings can also use sustainable finance tools of the Union, such as the Taxonomy, not only to disclose Taxonomy-aligned activities and capital expenditures, but also as a forward-looking tool for their transition process, using the criteria of the Taxonomy as reference points for setting targets. The Taxonomy is increasingly being used for transition finance purposes, with many undertakings reporting Taxonomy aligned capital expenditure that is materially higher than aligned revenue, especially in high-impact sectors.
(21) Investments to reach Taxonomy alignment in 5 (exceptionally 10) years are recognised as capital expenditure that is fully aligned with the Taxonomy if it is accompanied by a capital expenditure plan, which is a type of activity-level transition plan. Additionally, investments in transitional activities, as defined by Regulation (EU) 2020/852, are investments in the best available technologies, and are therefore also recognised as Taxonomy-aligned, provided they do not result in long term carbon intensive lock-ins or prevent the development of greener technologies. These are economic activities where no alternative technology currently exists and where the performance is on a transition path to climate neutrality in the future. To ensure continuous improvement throughout the transition, Regulation (EU) 2020/852 provides for a review of the technical screening criteria for transitional activities every three years, to take account of new technologies and scientific evidence as they become available.
(22) The Taxonomy can also be a useful guide, complementing climate or environmental targets or transition plans, for economic activities that cannot reach substantial contribution to one of the environmental objectives set out in Regulation (EU) 2020/852 but where significant improvements in environmental performance are still possible. Its criteria and principles can be used to set interim or minimum targets, for which transition finance could be raised, if the investments are compatible with the EU climate and environmental objectives. This should be ensured through a transition plan for the specific activity (an activity-based transition plan).
(23) Data shows that the Taxonomy is working as intended, with companies in the STOXX Europe 600 index that reported non-zero Taxonomy alignment so far, on average reporting Taxonomy alignment of around 23% for capital expenditure, 24% for operational expenditure and 17% for revenues.
(24) The EU climate transition benchmarks and EU Paris-aligned benchmarks are appropriate tools to design portfolios with decarbonisation objectives. Investment funds that track those benchmarks have grown considerably and are currently valued at EUR 116 billion. The use of market based ESG benchmarks with environmental sustainability features is increasing too.
(25) Transition plans are a useful tool to translate climate or environmental targets at the levels of both undertakings and economic activities into actions and an investment plan when communicating with financial intermediaries and investors. Financial intermediaries and investors might also take into account information from transition plans and the integrity, transparency and accountability of the targets included in the plans when assessing the transition and physical sustainability risks associated with an investment.
(26) Transition plans are currently not mandatory, but they are emerging as one of the key forward-looking tools that undertakings can use to set out and articulate their targets and the financing needed to reach those targets, and include information on milestones, activities, processes and resources. Transition plans can be set out by relying on Directive (EU) 2022/2464 and reporting standards under this Directive, where transition plans are part of the overall business strategy of an undertaking aiming to align itself with the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C.
(27) Undertakings that fall within the scope of the reporting obligations of Directive (EU) 2022/2464 will have to communicate any time-bound targets on sustainability matters they might have, as well as any plans they might have to ensure that their business model and strategy are compatible with the transition to a sustainable economy and to limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
(28) The Commission put forward a proposal for a Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence in February 2022 in order to ensure that companies active in the internal market deliver on the sustainability transition of our economies. It proposes that companies falling under its scope of application adopt a plan to ensure that the business models and strategy of the company are compatible with the transition to a sustainable economy and with the limiting of global warming to 1.5 °C in line with the Paris Agreement.
(29) A transition plan, which is an aspect of the overall strategy of the undertaking, can also cover the transition to environmental objectives. The credibility of a transition plan might be strengthened through its adoption by the management of the company, through including a structured set of short-, medium- and long-term targets and actions, including allocated and needed resources to ensure that the targets and actions are implemented in a credible and consistent way, including consideration and avoidance of long-term lock-in to GHG-intensive or environmentally significantly harmful activities or assets, considering the lifetime of those assets.
(30) Financial intermediaries have a key role to play in supporting the real economy’s transition to sustainability. Providing transition finance to the real economy therefore enables the financial sector to fulfil its financing function during the transition, reduces transition risk over time, and enables the sector to make its own orderly transition. Transition finance and related investments can reduce financial transition risk in the future even if they are not automatically subject to less financial risk than other investments.
(31) Bank lending and investments are both important for the financing of the real economy, and both are expected to provide a significant amount of transition finance to undertakings. Banks and other institutional investors are in a particularly good position to provide transition finance to their clients, since they can draw on their close client relationships. In this context, banks may consider this Recommendation in conjunction with the provisions on transition and physical risks in Directive 2013/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EU) 575/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which are currently being revised.
(32) The forthcoming advice of the European Banking Authority on green loans, as well as the work of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, will consider different aspects of transition finance and will provide relevant input for future considerations on this topic.
(33) Sustainability disclosures help streamline the exchange of information between financial intermediaries and undertakings in transition. For instance, forward-looking information on climate or environmental targets or transition plans, where they exist, might provide useful information for investors and financial intermediaries that are themselves committed to transitioning. The information will help financial intermediaries and investors decide on what to include or not include in investment products as well as assess the implications of different investment time-horizons and the risks of stranded assets.
(34) Financial intermediaries and investors can also contribute to the transition by offering specific transition-related financing solutions that are linked to climate or environmental targets set by undertakings.
(35) Member States are invited to continue raising awareness on approaches to seeking or providing transition finance. They are also invited to continue to provide training and technical assistance that can help increase the uptake of transition finance and provide specific transition-related financing solutions for undertakings willing to engage in the transition.
(36) The European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and National Competent Authorities in the Union should continue raising awareness of relevant approaches to transition finance. This will help instil confidence in market participants on how to use Union sustainable finance tools effectively and encourage the uptake of transition finance and reducing the risk of greenwashing.
(37) This Recommendation does not provide recommendations on all aspects of financing the transition to a climate-neutral and sustainable economy. It aims to clarify the basic concepts of transition finance and the use of tools that can encourage an increase in the uptake of private transition finance.
(38) This Recommendation is not exhaustive as market participants can find other ways to promote or raise transition finance that aligns with the transition to a sustainable economy. It should be considered together with any future market or legislative developments. The Platform on Sustainable Finance will help identify relevant market practices related to transition finance, and market participants can provide feedback to further refine the elements of the sustainable finance framework and its use for transition finance through the Platform or through outreach events organised by the Commission, such as workshops and stakeholder dialogues. The Commission will also scale-up its engagement with international partners, e.g. through the International Platform on Sustainable Finance and the upcoming Sustainable Finance Advisory Hub in the context of the Global Gateway, to promote the uptake and international inter-operability of transition finance globally.