Objectives of the session
The volume of ESG or sustainable finance is continuously increasing. But there is also a growing suspicion of “greenwashing” and a couple of financial investors are under investigation for this reason or have even been penalised in Europe and the United States. Finally, it is often not clear for the investor why a financial product is said to be sustainable.
Labels and ESG ratings are expected to help. But they are numerous (and labels are often country-specific) and in general not convergent. Their methodologies are not always clear and not easy to compare. Some labels or ESG ratings have been criticized as too lenient.
The implementation of the SFDR has complicated the landscape, because some sustainable funds have used the article 8 or 9 of the regulation as labels even if it is only a self-declaration.
A ESMA study highlights that there are 59 sustainable rating agencies in the EU. While most of them are very small (median turnover €5million), there are also three international large players having the larger market share by far and two medium-sized EU companies.
One specificity is that contrarily to credit-rating agencies, the rating outcome strongly diverge from one rating agency to another. Rating approaches are not transparent enough and not easy to compare. ESMA’s conclusion is that to avoid potential conflicts of interest and to investigate their methodologies, these service providers, except the small ones, should be supervised.
In this context, the roundtable will be asked to assess if labels and ESG rating agencies contribute enough to the clarification of the sustainable investment universe and how the situation could be improved.
Points of discussion
- How to describe the ESG or sustainable labels and ESG rating agencies landscapes today?
- What is needed to improve their contribution to clarifying the sustainable investment universe?