Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

What is the EU’s Sustainable Finance Taxonomy?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EU Taxonomy

Mains level: Not Much

Activists have been widely criticizing the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy as a “greenwashing” exercise that puts the European Union’s climate change targets at risk.

What is the EU Taxonomy?

  • The EU taxonomy is a complex system to classify which parts of the economy may be marketed as sustainable investments.
  • It includes economic activities, as well as detailed environmental criteria that each economic activity must meet to earn a green label.

Why in news now?

  • Rules for most sectors came into effect this year, covering investments including steel plants, electric cars and building renovations.
  • The rules for gas and nuclear energy, however, have been long delayed amid intense lobbying from governments who disagree on whether the fuels help fight climate change.

What does it say about gas and nuclear energy?

  • The European Parliament supported that proposal in a vote paving the way for it to become law and apply from 2023.
  • Under the proposal, for a gas-fuelled power plant to be deemed green, it must emit no more than 270 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour, or have average emissions of 550g CO2e/kW over 20 years.
  • It must also commit to switch to low-carbon gases by 2035.
  • Gas and nuclear power plants are classed as transitional activities.

What’s the taxonomy for?

  • The taxonomy does not ban investments in activities not labelled “green”, but it limits which ones companies and investors can claim are climate-friendly.
  • The EU’s goal to eliminate its net emissions by 2050 will require huge investments, much of it private funding.
  • The rules also aim to stamp out green-washing, where organisations exaggerate their environmental credentials, among so-called eco-friendly investment products.

Who does it apply to?

  • Providers of financial products – including pension providers – in the EU must disclose which investments comply with the taxonomy’s climate criteria.
  • For each investment, fund or portfolio, they must disclose what share of underlying investments comply with the rules.
  • Large companies and listed firms must also disclose what share of their turnover and capital expenditure complies.
  • That means polluting companies can get recognition for making green investments.
  • For example, if an oil company invested in a wind farm, it could label that expenditure as green.

What makes a “green” investment?

The rules classify three types of green investments.

  • First, those that substantially contribute to green goals, for example, wind power farms.
  • Second, those that enable other green activities, for example, facilities that can store renewable electricity or hydrogen.
  • Third, transitional activities that cannot be made fully sustainable, but which have emissions below industry average and do not lock in polluting assets or crowd out greener alternatives.


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