Can the EU “Green” the Global Financial System?


The EU is committed to becoming a global leader in green finance and taking steps to protect the financial system from climate risk. It is determined to export its regulatory approach across the globe but faces challenges and limitations in this pursuit. The European Commission established a Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance in 2018 to improve the flow of information among financial market actors. While, overall, the Expert Group has made a promising start in its approach to addressing climate risks and promoting green finance, its approach has been criticized for lacking nuance, particularly when it comes to its binary classification of assets and sectors of the economy as either ‘green’ or ‘brown’. These critiques are important to consider if the EU is to successfully export its approach globally.

The EU is also working to ensure that its financial institutions are “Paris-aligned”. The European Investment Bank is a critical institution in making finance flows consistent with achieving a carbon-neutral economy. This institution is emerging as a model of best practice, but it remains to be seen how fast it will move out of financing fossil fuel assets.