European pension funds have provided some straight-talking feedback on recommendations made by an advisory body to the European Commission on sustainable finance.
In trade body PensionsEurope’s submission to the consultation by the High Level Expert Group (HLEG), it said “pension funds have the purest approach to long term/sustainable investment”.
“Sustainability is already and by definition has been an integral part of pension funds’ risk-return decisions,” the organisation added, voicing support for the Commission’s “ambitious” agenda on sustainable finance.
The consultation asked respondents about various aspects of the HLEG’s recommendations.
On green bonds, PensionsEurope advocated that standardisation should be based on the Green Bond Principles, an industry initiative. It said that an explicit connection between the proceeds of a green bond and the environmental, social and governance policies of the issuer was needed.
Regarding infrastructure, PensionsEurope pushed back somewhat on the HLEG’s idea of creating an organisation for developing infrastructure projects and matching them with investors. The focus should be less on match-making and more on building out on the European Investment Advisory Hub, an investment support service formed by the Commission and the European Investment Bank.
On the much-discussed issue of long-term investment, the trade body said policy horizons needed to be longer.
“The EU and the member states should provide for a good investment climate, stable pricing/tariffing (on pricing and subsidies) and a stable policy framework in order to provide long term investors with certainty,” it said.
Securitisation got PensionsEurope’s support as a means of gaining long-term exposure to, for example, European project finance, including wind and solar projects, thereby helping institutional investors support green energy.
Regulators could promote a concept of green securitisation, said the organisation, in keeping with the HLEG’s recommendations.
A theme running through PensionsEurope’s submission was that sustainable finance also needed to recognise the importance of social stability, and not just environmental issues.