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BREAKING: EU legislation to prevent greenwashing becomes ultimate greenwashing tool- BirdLife suspends activities in Commission Platform on Sustainable Finance

The EU Taxonomy is now showing its true colours: what was conceived as a standard against greenwashing has become yet another greenwashing tool.

By Honey Kohan

Today, the European Commission released the so called ‘Delegated Act’ of its Sustainable Finance Taxonomy [1]. The EU taxonomy is a landmark regulation that will from next year define what can be labelled as a sustainable investment in the EU. However, what was supposed to be the standard against greenwashing has now become yet another greenwashing tool as the Taxonomy states that forestry (logging trees) and bioenergy (burning trees and crops for energy) make a “significant contribution to climate mitigation” and do “no significant harm” to biodiversity.

BirdLife Europe is a member of the European Commission’s Platform on Sustainable Finance sharing expertise on what this regulation should look like. Following the release of the Delegated Act today, BirdLife is, alongside other environmental NGOs and consumer associations, suspending our activities in the Platform to protest the blatant greenwashing the taxonomy would allow.

In a press conference earlier today, Commissioner Mairead McGuinness stated that the EU Taxonomy is “transformational beyond our wildest thoughts” & that they have “adopted a credible taxonomy, based on science”.

This is not true when it comes to nature, as the Delegated Act adopted by the EU Commission grossly disregards the science and evidence and endorses the greenwashing of harmful logging and bioenergy following an opaque series of political interventions by vested interests.

BirdLife, together with other environmental experts of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, has asked the EU Commission for a fundamental clarification on the rules of operation of the Platform. The Chair of the Platform has made several suggestions to the Commission to ensure that implementation of the EU taxonomy follows scientific evidence as required by the regulation. BirdLife is suspending activities in the Platform, pending concrete reassurance that effective changes will be made to ensure that scientific evidence is followed, and that the Platform is not purely used as a smoke screen.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy, BirdLife Europe:
“Given the seriousness of our concerns, we see ourselves obliged to suspend our active participation in the Platform of Sustainable Finance pending a clarification by the EU along lines requested by the Chair of the Platform. Independent experts cannot simply be used as a smoke screen for political decisions that have no connection to evidence”.

In parallel, BirdLife has called for today’s Delegated Act to be rejected. This would force the Commission to go back to the drawing board and restore sustainability criteria based on sound science.

“By caving in to the pressure of the forestry industries lobby group and their political sponsors in the Finnish and Swedish governments, the European Commission has betrayed science, the European Green Deal and its own legal mandate all in one go. We call on the Parliament and Council to reject the Delegated Act that would shatter the credibility of the EU as a global standard setter and make green finance just yet another cover for the liquidation of life on earth.”

Earlier this month, BirdLife Europe, civil society organisations and scientists sent an open letter to the European Commission expressing deep concerns about the greenwash-enabling path the taxonomy appeared to be heading down, and stating “should politics and lobbying prevail over science, it is our responsibility to inform you that we would be forced to reconsider our contribution to the Platform.”

The open letter can be read here


[1] The EU’s Taxonomy Regulation came into force in July 2020. The Delegated Act presented today details how authorities and the market can comply with the Regulation, by setting out which economic activities and sectors can be classed as ‘sustainable’. The Delegated Act is now subject to approval by the European Parliament and Council.

Image credits: © Jace & Afsoon / Unsplash

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