The European Parliament committees passed a joint vote on a provisional agreement that will provide investors with clear information of what is considered to be environmentally and socially sustainable, with both Maltese MEPs on the committees voting in favour.
The European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs agreed on new criteria on the taxonomy regulation earlier this month with 85 votes to 16.
This new legislation will protect investors from “greenwashing”, a method used by companies promoting their products as green by misleading or disinforming, and they can use their funds in a more sustainable, greener direction.
The Maltese MEPs on the two committees, Miriam Dalli and Alfred Sant, both voted in favour of the agreement. Roberta Metsola and David Casa are substitute members of the committees and did not have a vote on this matter but expressed their support of this agreement.
— Frances Fitzgerald MEP (@FitzgeraldFrncs) January 23, 2020
The taxonomy regulation will take into consideration objectives such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, pollution prevention and also protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem.
The agreement stipulates that economic activity has to contribute towards one or more of the objectives without causing any harm or damage. The environmental sustainability will be measured using a unified classification system instead of national labels, making it hard for investors to compare green investments.
“The taxonomy for sustainable investment is probably the most important development for finance since accounting. It will be a game changer in the fight against climate change,’” said lead negotiator for the Environment Committee, Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, Finland).
“We need to move away from the traditional way of doing things where economic growth happens at the detriment of our environment and social protection. I want a new economic model that creates quality jobs, ensures social protection and environmental integrity”, Dalli said after the vote.
According to the EEA report published in 2019, Malta will miss all its projected carbon emission targets for 2030 being the most regressive country in the EU, falling short of the 2030 greenhouse gas emission target by 61.7%. The report highlights that “Malta is the only country for which emissions have remained above its Effort Sharing targets since 2013”.
The EEA report published in 2018 didn’t give Malta a better prediction. “Malta is the only country for which emissions have remained above its Effort Sharing targets since 2013,” the report said back then.
It was recently reported that Malta will purchase €2 million worth of renewable energy credits from Estonia to be able to reach its EU targets for 2020, with the tax payers having to pay while not benefitting from cleaner air.
Malta was also named in a Eurostat report last year as the 8th worst country in the world for levels of asthma, behind Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, and Congo among others. Parliamentary figures tabled by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne have also revealed that there are a total of 26,429 chronic asthma sufferers in Malta, a number that increases by an average of five per day.
“The vote was an important step towards closing the dossier – we expect that the final vote in plenary will be able to take place in the coming months”, Metsola said when contacted by The Shift.
“In Malta, Gozo and across the rest of the European Union, we need to continue to move away from a linear economic model towards placing the concept of sustainability at the heart of our economic, social and environmental policy”, she added.
Today #sustainablefinance #taxonomy was overwhelmingly approved by ECON and ENVI committees @Europarl_EN Landmark legislation that sets rules on how to classify green investment. #Climate and #environment need swift action. Fortunately, we have necessary tech & fin resources pic.twitter.com/oq2lwnqv8U
— Sirpa Pietikäinen🇫🇮🇪🇺 (@spietikainen) January 23, 2020
Several MEPs hailed the approval as a game changer and, while announcing the vote’s approval, Pietikäinen added, “we indeed need to see swift action and that EU has the resources to make it happen”.
The pressure for green policies and regulations is picking up even on an international level. On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters took the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum event in Davos, Switzerland, as an opportunity to protest against climate change, environmental damage and globalisation.
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg gave a speech where she demanded all companies, banks, institutions and governments participating at the WEF immediately distance themselves from fossil fuels in every way.