On 18 June 2019, the technical expert group (TEG) on sustainable finance published three new reports:
- a report on the EU taxonomy;
- a report on an EU Green Bond Standard;
- and an interim report on climate benchmarks and benchmarks’ ESG disclosures.
To accompany these reports and provide a venue for an open exchange with stakeholders, the Commission organised a Stakeholder dialogue on sustainable finance on 24 June 2019.
In addition to the reports of the TEG, during the event the Commission presented the new guidelines for companies on how to report climate-related information. These guidelines are built on the proposals made by the TEG in January 2019.
The event also featured a session on the future of sustainable finance, where the audience was invited to present their ideas.
What is the TEG, where does it stand, and what will happen after June?
To advance the work on sustainable finance, the European Commission set up the TEG in June 2018. The role of the TEG has been to assist the Commission in the development of a unified classification system for sustainable economic activities (“EU Taxonomy”), an EU green bond standard, methodologies for climate benchmarks and disclosures for benchmarks, and to provide guidance to improve corporate disclosure of climate-related information.
The TEG has been working on developing the EU taxonomy for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation. In December, the TEG published a first round of climate change mitigation activities and their technical screening criteria, together with a call for feedback on the proposed criteria. The TEG has also engaged with over 150 additional experts in the past few months to develop technical screening criteria for the second round climate change mitigation activities and adaptation activities.
On 18 June 2019, the TEG published a report on EU Taxonomy, which takes on board the feedback received on the first round of proposed activities and the input from the additional experts. The report is accompanied by a short user guide, which provides a quick overview of what the taxonomy is, what it is not, and how to use it in practice.
The TEG will organise a call for feedback over the summer on its final report and will advise the Commission on how to take the feedback forward. The call for feedback will be launched in early July.
Subject to the outcome of the negotiations between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament on the legislative proposal on taxonomy, the Commission has committed to consult the public on any measures it will propose under this framework.
Once the Taxonomy Regulation has been agreed between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament, the Commission is expected to develop delegated acts building on the TEG report. The Commission will conduct a formal consultation on these delegated acts.
EU Green Bond Standard
The TEG has been working on recommendations for the development of an EU Green Bond Standard, with a view to increasing transparency and comparability of the green bond market, as well as to provide clarity to issuers on the steps to follow for an issuance, in order to scale up sustainable finance.
On 18 June 2019, the TEG published a report on EU Green Bond Standard, reflecting both the feedback received from stakeholders and the latest analyses conducted by the Group. No additional call for feedback is foreseen for the June report.
After June, the TEG will further work on its proposal for the accreditation of external verifiers, as well as monitor the latest developments in parallel on-going initiatives, both at EU level (taxonomy, prospectus regulation, EU ecolabel) and internationally (ISO work), so as to advise on consistency with the proposed EU Green Bond Standard.
Climate benchmarks and benchmarks’ ESG disclosures
The TEG has been working on defining minimum standards for the methodologies of the ‘EU Climate Transition’ and ‘EU Paris-aligned’ benchmarks, addressing the risk of greenwashing. It has also worked on disclosure requirements in relation to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors and the alignment with the Paris agreement, including the standard format to be used to report such elements.
The TEG has engaged extensively with experts in the field in the past few months organising several workshops in order to obtain expertise and input.
On 18 June 2019, the TEG published an interim report on Climate benchmarks and benchmarks’ ESG disclosures. In parallel, a 6 week call for feedback was launched. Taking into account the feedback received the TEG is expected to publish the final version of the report by the end of September.
Following the publication of the final report, the Commission will develop a delegated act building on the TEG report. The Commission will conduct a formal consultation on this delegated act.
The TEG work on climate-related disclosures had a slightly different time line than the other three tasks. To inform the update the non-binding guidelines that accompany the non-financial reporting directive in June 2019, the TEG already published its final report on climate-related disclosures in January 2019. The report contained recommendations for how companies should disclose climate-related information, thereby advising the Commission on which elements should be part of an update of the non-binding guidelines.
The Commission used the TEG report and the related stakeholder feedback, when developing the new climate reporting guidelines that were published on 18 June 2019. The new guidelines on reporting climate-related information supplement the existing non-binding guidelines on non-financial reporting published by the Commission in 2017. They are consistent with the requirements of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, and they also integrate the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). They provide guidance for companies on how to report on the impacts of their business on the climate and on the impacts of climate change on their business.