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 Full text 
Thursday, 28 March 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (debate)

  Sirpa Pietikäinen, Rapporteur. – Mr President, we have EUR 30 trillion in coal—risky and environmentally—risky stranded assets. EUR 30 trillion! That is millions of millions. That means that our pensions are threatened in the longer run if change is not made. It means that our economy is at risk and threat of a crises when change is going to come. And it means that our environment is under threat because we are investing in the wrong end of the economy.

But then again, the good news is that EUR 30 trillion is a lot of money and as we have a clear indication what kind of investments are environmentally—friendly, sustainable and not causing significant harm in other fields, then we have plenty of money to turn the wheel and support environmentally—sustainable economies and investments. We need only EUR 180 billion every year to invest in combating climate change. So, we do have the money, but it is in the wrong place. The question is about transferring that money from economically and environmentally risky investments to more sustainable investments.

There, we need a harmonised indicator so we really can compare industries to industries within a sector and between sectors. We need to define – and this is what this legislation is all about – the environmental requirements and, in the future, as a backstop, the social requirements that we consider to be sustainable. What that means is that in the case of palm oil, for example, you can’t focus on one issue like climate change and say this is a good investment if it causes significant harm in other fields of the environment like biodiversity in Indonesia and orang-utans. We know this to be the case with palm oil. And you couldn’t build a solar panel unit in a nature conservation area and claim it is green. And no, I don’t think that you could produce solar panels or any other green niceties with child labour. So the reference to significant environmental harm or other harm and the backstop makes consistent sense of how we understand and define sustainability.

The financial sector is already much more advanced than setting green indicators and reporting mechanisms. For the majority of politicians in Member States – and let’s see what the figures are here, in the European Parliament – the issue is that now when we do not have a harmonised taxonomy they lose comparability, and the information they have does not have as big an impact as it should. But we, as politicians, shouldn’t perform worse than the markets are doing already. That brings us to some of the specific issues here in the file.

First, coal. Frankly, with climate change, could you really call a coal investment a green investment? Put that question to yourselves. Second question, could you really call investments that follow only basic national legislation a green investment? My interpretation is that if you do not break the law you are not a criminal, but it does not mean that your activity would be green. So yes, there need to be some better standards that normal activity to be labelled green and sold as green investments.

It is important that we get it right this time, because investors do need transparency, predictability and long-term guidance from this regulation.

Last updated: 8 July 2019Legal notice