Commission puts forward New strategy for Sustainable Finance and proposes new European Green Bond Standard

The Commission also adopted yesteday a Delegated Act on the information to be disclosed by financial and non-financial companies about how sustainable their activities are, based on Article 8 of the EU Taxonomy.

Thus, EU took another major step towards achieving the goals in the Green Deal by ensuring a comprehensive approach to funding the green transition.

EU proposed incorporating climate-related risks into banks’ capital requirements. The challenge for lenders is weaning themselves off their lending exposure to fossil fuels. Their initial disclosures have been limited and commercial lenders still have “patchy” data regarding their exposure to climate change.

The ECB will hold a stress test next year to see how their balance sheets may fare as the climate and economy shifts. EU states will be asked to assess by June 2023 how their financial markets contribute to reaching the bloc’s climate goals. ECB will then calibrate the right pace for the transition by setting intermediate targets for the financial sector. Insurance capital rules may also be similarly amended.

The Commission confirmed it will publish taxonomy rules later this year for agriculture, certain industries and possibly nuclear and gas power plants. EU needed to guard against the risks associated with the transition, thus considering an “intermediate taxonomy” that would allow transition bonds.

The strategy seeks to empower individuals and the bloc’s 23 million SME by defining green loans and mortgages by 2022. New accounting rules may also be needed to “recognise and report” ESG risks in financial statements.

The strategy sets out a positive vision of the reform needed in the financial system to support the European economy.

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New EU measures for transitioning to a Sustainable Economy

The EU Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy, and the rulebook for green bonds will be unveiled next week. They center around the Green Deal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The EU strategy will propose tightening reporting requirements for financial entities, by incorporating climate-related risks into credit ratings and bank capital requirements. It will also enable supervisors to address greenwashing.

The European Commission (EC) will invite the ESMA to assess how ESG factors are incorporated by credit rating agencies and will consider proposing an initiative to make sure those risks are captured by the assessments. The EC will also ask the ECB to conduct regular climate change stress tests.

The strategy paves the way for financing activities such as natural gas during the transition, after Germany and Poland pushed for including it in the taxonomy, despite the resistance of the others member states. Thus, BAU is falling under the agenda of sustainable finance.

Supervision of ESG risks for credit institutions and investment firms

The European Banking Authority (EBA) published yesterday a report which provides recommendations for institutions to incorporate ESG risks-related considerations in strategies and objectives, governance structures, and to manage these risks as drivers of financial risks in their risk appetite and internal capital allocation process. The EBA also recommends developing methodologies and approaches to test the long-term resilience of institutions against ESG factors and risks including the use of scenario analysis.

EBA sees a need applying at least a 10 years horizon to capture ESG related risks, proposing a phase-in approach. This Report should be considered in conjunction with the EBA and ESAs disclosure publications under the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR), the Taxonomy Regulation and the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). The EBA will publish Pillar 3 disclosure requirements on ESG risks, transition risks and physical risks, as defined in this Report, later this year.

The report will be taken into consideration in the context of the Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy, the review of CRR/CRD, and an update of the SREP Guidelines to include ESG risks in the supervision of credit institutions.

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Countries’ map developing National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights

NAPs are policy documents in which a government articulates priorities and actions that it will adopt to support the implementation of international, regional, or national obligations and commitments with regard to a given policy area or topic.

The UN Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises (UN Working Group), mandated by the Human Rights Council to promote the effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), noted in its 2016 Guidance on business and human rights NAPs that they can be an important means to promote the implementation of the UNGPs.

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The ESG Green Bond Principles (GBP) 2021 edition has been updated by the International Capital Market Association @ICMA

The GBP seek to support issuers in financing environmentally sound & sustainable projects that foster a net-zero emissions economy & protect the environment. An estimated 97% of sustainable bonds issued globally in 2020 referenced the Principles.

The four core components that an issuer should disclose to align with the GBP remain unchanged (use of procedes, evaluation & selection, management of procedes, & reporting). The GBP identifies recommendations regarding green bond frameworks and external reviews for heightened transparency. It recommends heightened transparency for issuer-level sustainability strategies & commitments. It recognises that ongoing developments of taxonomies may require parties to consider such taxonomies when determining the environmental sustainability of projects.

The 2021 editions of the the Social Bond Principles (SBP) & the Sustainability Bond Guidelines (SBG) have been similarly revised. The 2021 edition of the Guidance Handbook has also been updated & reflects such revisions.

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The EU Green Bond Standard (EU GBS

It will be logically voluntary. It will be ready to be used in 2022 and aims to set the global standard. Global ESG debt market tops 3 TUSD, with Europe taking a lead as nearly a quarter of its bond sales this year were related to social factors.

Sovereign issuers will be granted some flexibility to assess government spending programs based on their terms and conditions. The 27-member bloc itself is set to become one of the largest issuers, with 30% of its 800 BEUR pandemic recovery funding planned as green debt.

The ESMA will determine whether a bond is green or not, with external reviewers to be approved by the body. Issuers should disclose impact assessments at least once, as well as annual allocation reports for how the funds were used and they will be free to align their bonds alongside other standards.

EU GBS affords issuers an opportunity to launch taxonomy-aligned green bonds at a potentially lower cost of capital. For investors, the standard affords an opportunity to make investments in green bonds that are credible and easier to report on.

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Call for an EU Biodiversity Law

A new resolution to improve biodiversity in Europe was proposed by the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, which includes binding environmental targets for 2030 and 2050. This includes: 30% of EU’s land and sea must be protected áreas; binding targets for urban biodiversity such as green roofs on new buildings; urgent action needed to stop population decline of bees and other pollinators.

MEPs regretted that the EU didn’t achieve its biodiversity targets for 2020 and stated that the new strategy must adequately address the five main drivers of transformation in nature: changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species. They are also asking for 20 KMEUR/y for action on biodiversity in Europe.

In addition, they demand the next United Nations conference in October 2021 creates a Paris Agreement that sets global biodiversity priorities for 2030 and beyond.

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Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) update of their economic scenarios

Reaching net zero by 2050 could lift growth and employment but would require an inflation-boosting $160 per tonne carbon price — or equivalent “shadow price” — by the end of the decade. This will push up inflation and also raise unemployment in some countries with energy-intensive industries.

Only a relatively quick and orderly transition to a low carbon economy would add to growth while a delayed transition or no action would cut deep into the economy.If these changes occur in an orderly fashion, the scenarios suggest that it could lead to some increase in global GDP, and lower unemployment relative to prior trends.If the transition fails, the scenarios suggest that up to 13% of global GDP would be at risk by the end of the century, even before accounting for the potential consequences of severe weather events.

Currently about a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are covered by a carbon price.

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EU-wide pilot exercise on banks’ climate risk by EU Banking Authority

The EU aggregated GAR stands at 7.9%, which identifies the institutions’ assets financing activities that are environmentally sustainable according to the EU taxonomy.

More disclosure on transition strategies and GHG emissions would be needed to allow banks and supervisors to assess climate risk more accurately. It is important banks to expand their data infrastructure to include clients’ information at activity level.

Regarding the EU taxonomy classification, banks are currently in different development phases to assess the greenness of their exposures. The two estimation techniques, banks’ bottom-up estimates and a top-down tool, are considered in the exercise and the report highlights the differences in outcomes.

The scenario analysis shows that the impact of climate-related risks across banks has different magnitudes and is concentrated in some particular sectors. The findings should be considered as starting point estimates for future work on climate risk.

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Innovation is key for the Net‐Zero Emissions Scenario 2050 (NZE)

The @IEA just released the world’s first comprehensive roadmap for the global energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. They say almost 50% of the emissions reductions needed in 2050 in the NZE depend on technologies that are at the prototype or demonstration stage. This share is even higher in sectors such as heavy industry and long‐distance transport.
This is clearly ambitious, as most clean energy technologies that have not been demonstrated at scale today should reach markets by 2030 at the latest. Technologies at the demonstration stage, such as CCUS in cement production or low‐emissions ammonia‐fuelled ships, are brought into the market in the next three to four years. Hydrogen‐based steel production, direct air capture (DAC) and other technologies at the large prototype stage reach the market in about six years, while most technologies at small prototype stage – such as solid state refrigerant‐free cooling or solid state batteries – do so within the coming nine years.
In the NZE, electrification, CCUS, hydrogen and sustainable bioenergy account for nearly half of the cumulative emissions reductions to 2050. Just three technologies are critical in enabling around 15% of the cumulative emissions reductions in the NZE between 2030 and 2050: advanced high‐energy density batteries, hydrogen electrolysers and DAC.

You can read the report “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector” here