Defining green: What investors need to know about the EU taxonomy

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If you’ve been following sustainability headlines over the past few years, chances are you’ve heard about the EU’s green taxonomy — essentially, a dictionary that defines how sustainable a business or sector is. It assesses more than 100 economic activities and is designed to steer companies as they adapt their business strategies to climate change, as well as help investment funds judge sectors based on their environmental performance. Investors will also have to disclose what percentage of their investments are in line with the taxonomy.

The new regulation is expected to radically change how investors and companies report on their environmental performance. It will be enforced from 2022, which does not leave investors a lot of time to get up to speed. And the taxonomy is not quite finalized, with further regulation expected in 2023 — creating some big challenges for investors trying to navigate the changing sustainability landscape.

To talk us through what investors can expect from the taxonomy, we spoke to Helena Viñes Fiestas, commissioner at Spain’s Financial Markets Authority. She’s also rapporteur of the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance, a body of experts from industry, finance and civil society who advise the EU’s executive arm on the future of sustainable finance policy in Europe.

“I like to compare it a little bit with food products,” Helena says of the taxonomy. “If you market your product as low fat, it's only fair to ask how much fat it has and whether or not it's too much. This is exactly the same, where the taxonomy becomes the recommended daily intake.”

Photo credit: Getty Images

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