Stockholm (NordSIP) – Many of the members of the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance (PSF), an expert group launched in 2020 to assist the EU Commission in fine-tuning the numerous details of the green taxonomy, have been increasingly critical of the way politicians are ignoring their advice. In the latest sign of protest, on 13 September, five NGOs announced that they are leaving PSF, citing political interference and blatant disregard for expert opinion. The resigning organisations are the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), Birdlife Europe and Central Asia, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS), Transport & Environment (T&E), and the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) European Policy Office.
The sentiment would be familiar to those following the dynamics in the relationship between the EU Commission and PSF. Earlier this year, NordSIP interviewed Fabiola Schneider and Nadine Viel Lamare, two of the so-called sherpas assisting the appointed members of PSF in their work, for the annual edition of the EU Sustainable Finance Regulation Handbook. Both were very open about their concerns. “I feel that with the release of the complementary DA, the Commission killed the integrity of the taxonomy, alongside the trust of those working to put together a robust, science-based dictionary of what is sustainable,” commented Schneider. “What is the point of having a scientific body of advisors if you don’t listen to the advice,” added Viel Lamare.
In this week’s letter sent to Mairead McGuinness, the EU commissioner for financial services, the five resigning organisations express their disappointment quite clearly. “The governance of the Commission’s relationship with the Platform has been very unsatisfactory,” they state. “The Commission has interfered politically in the Platform’s work several times. In addition, it has repeatedly ignored the recommendations of its expert group, in particular on forestry, bioenergy, gas-fired power and nuclear power, without providing any sound scientific justification for these decisions. This is despite the explicit requirement in Art. 19 of the Taxonomy regulation for criteria based on ‘conclusive scientific evidence’.”
According to the NGOs, the EU taxonomy’s credibility has been heavily damaged, especially by adopting the Complementary Delegated Act (CDA) on gas and nuclear power. “With the CDA, the Taxonomy has been transformed from a gold standard into an instrument of institutional greenwashing, and it now lags behind other taxonomies in China, Colombia, South Africa, and Bangladesh, amongst others,” write the experts.
The letter also states that before deciding to walk out, the organisations made many attempts to resolve the problems. However, the Commission has since breached the assurances they gave PSF, and they “have lost trust in the Commission’s ability to govern its relationship with this expert group properly.”
“We no longer believe this Commission will allow the Platform to work independently and with integrity, so we cannot be part of this process any longer,” said Sébastien Godinot, senior economist at the WWF’s European Policy Office, in a statement.