(Bloomberg) -- European regulators have launched a joint review to map out the prevalence of greenwashing in the financial industry.
The three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) issued a 42-page “call for evidence” to gauge the scale of exaggerated environmental, social and governance investing statements as they try to find out how well existing regulations are working. The move, announced on Tuesday, acts on a mandate by the European Commission that was given in May.
The probe coincides with a wave of ESG fund reclassifications as asset managers react to clarifications to the EU’s anti-greenwash rulebook, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. In an effort to navigate the new landscape, investment firms are increasingly relying on lawyers, according to those representing the industry.
The ESA review targets banks, insurers, pensions, benchmark administrators, asset managers and investors. The regulators have asked the financial market participants to respond to questions relating to everything from senior management’s role in sustainability to “underlying drivers of greenwashing.” Firms are also expected to provide examples.
In an apparent effort to allay fears of the legal repercussions of providing responses, the ESAs made clear that reported examples of greenwashing would be used to advise the commission on possible remedies.
“The purpose of this survey is to gather useful and concrete examples that will help the ESAs to better understand greenwashing,” according to the document. Reported greenwashing cases “are mainly sought for the purpose of informing the advice which the ESAs would provide to the European Commission.”
Those responding “may either give full details about the actual names of the entities or products involved in a potential greenwashing practice, or you may refer to them as ‘entity X’, ‘product Y’.”
The ESAs are scheduled to deliver an initial report by May 31 and a final report a year later.
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