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Debates
Thursday, 18 April 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

Disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Paul Tang, Rapporteur. – Mr President, climate activist Greta Thunberg was in the European Parliament this week and said: ‘let’s save the save the planet like we are saving Notre-Dame’, and she’s right. We have to step up to the big challenge of our time and come into action. We have to do it step by step, stone by stone, and this report, this regulation is an important building block to make the financial sector work, not just for profits but for people and planet, to make finance part of the solution of sustainability challenges and not part of the problem.

From the start, the idea has been radically simple: make sustainability part of the DNA of the financial sector. Let considerations of sustainability apply as broadly as possible to all financial products, to all financial institutions, for all sorts of impacts, and as always with radical ideas, it sounds simple but the implementation is not. But I still dare to say that the negotiation results still broadly reflects this idea.

Indeed, sustainable finance should not be stuck in the green corner, as a manifestation of goodwill while, at the same time, as an excuse for the bulk of non-sustainable investment. In fact, not in a green corner, but sustainability should be discussed in the boardrooms of banks, insurers, pension funds and asset managers. This means that sustainability considerations should be integrated in every step of the decision-making – in every step. This means everyone in the financial sector has to move.

So yes, this is what we need. We need a broad scope, an unlevel playing field, so that consumers who want to know what their product is, can learn to know that, and even more important, we need a broad scope so as not to punish the front runners and to benefit the slackers. We need a broad definition of sustainability. This is a broad concept encompassing a wide array of considerations, ranging from biodiversity to human rights, from emissions to working conditions, and we need a broad framework to manage risks and impact – not only the identification of impacts but also actions to prevent and mitigate them; not just disclosure but also due diligence. I think this report makes progress on all three fronts, and that is a big win. This resonates already with the mind-shift we see in part of the financial sector. A broad range of FSAs is already applying due diligence and, just this week, many of them subscribed to a call for mandatory due diligence. This enables them to show their social value but also to achieve a higher-risk adjusted return. Economics and values can go hand in hand.

I would like to call on the European Commission and the supervisor to use the openings in this regulation to work on standards for disclosures, to better define the social impacts of investments, to work on standards for due diligence: these are what we need to truly make the transition towards sustainable finance. The message from the regulation on disclosure and on the critical benchmarks should be clear to the financial sector: finance will become sustainable. Don’t wait for it but start working on it.

Finally, I would like to thank the representatives of Parliament, the Commission and the Council for overcoming and bridging the significant differences we had in a short time. It has been a tremendous effort by all, and I would like to thank them from the depth of my heart. I deeply appreciate it.

 
Last updated: 8 July 2019Legal notice