Green NGOs announce exit from EU’s sustainable finance platform

Announcement comes days after RI reported discussions on departure by unnamed NGOs.

Green NGOs have left the EU Platform on Sustainable Finance (PSF), claiming the European Commission has interfered politically and acted against scientific evidence.

The resigning organisations are the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS), Transport and Environment (T&E) and the WWF European Policy Office.

PSF is an independent advisory body set up to assist future development of the EU’s flagship green taxonomy.

Today’s statement alleged that Brussels has chosen to ignore science and listen to industry lobby groups for several critical sectors. According to the statement: “Commission is legally bound to justify the taxonomy criteria based on ‘conclusive scientific evidence’.”

Last week, Responsible Investor exclusively reported that multiple environmental NGOs would not participate in the second iteration of the platform – which the Commission is expected to solicit applications for in the coming weeks after the PSF’s current mandate ends in October – after losing confidence in how the body is run. 

At the time, an unnamed NGO representative said: “I think it’s necessary that no NGO, or at least very few civil society organisations, sign up. We need to make a point that this is not how we want to co-operate with the Commission.” 

In particular, criticisms included alleged pushback against the PSF’s advice, as well as interference by the Commission, including through the appointment of ad hoc experts. 

While today’s statement focused on the development of the taxonomy, platform members earlier spoke of feelings of burnout and exhaustion to RI.

Mathilde Crêpy, head of environmental transparency, ECOS, said: “We have done our best to build and improve the taxonomy framework from within. Unfortunately, the EU has gradually turned its back on science, and made the taxonomy a tool to promote greenwashing in energy generation and forestry. We cannot legitimise the taxonomy with our presence in the platform.”  

Luca Bonaccorsi, director of sustainable finance at T&E, also noted: “The EU taxonomy was supposed to be a tool to fight greenwashing. Instead, it’s become a dangerous tool to greenwash, with incentives for fossil gas, biogas and the indiscriminate logging and burning of forests.” 

He continued: “After years spent trying to build it, now it’s the time to campaign and convince investors not to follow it.” 

Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), another platform member, was not among the signatories of the statement. CEO Sean Kidney previously told RI: “Expert advisory panels are painful – the work is done for free and often ignored by policymakers. But I would say to my colleagues on the platform that we need to stay involved and stay fighting. What we have accomplished already is a tremendous advancement and is setting green standards globally.” 

Responding to the NGOs’ announcement, a spokesperson for the Commission told RI: “The European Commission recognises the work of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, and its members, in supporting the Commission to develop the EU’s Sustainable Finance Framework, and the EU Taxonomy in particular. We take note that some members of the Platform have decided to step down from their position.”