A taxonomy of sustainable finance taxonomies

BIS Papers  |  No 118  | 
08 October 2021

Sustainable finance taxonomies can play an important role in scaling up sustainable finance and, in turn, in supporting the achievement of high-level goals such as the Paris Accord and the UN sustainable development goals. This paper develops a framework to classify and compare existing taxonomies. Several weaknesses emerge from this classification and comparison, including the lack of usage of relevant and measurable sustainability performance indicators, a lack of granularity and lack of verification of achieved sustainability benefits. On this basis, the paper proposes key principles for the design of effective taxonomies. The principles are then employed to develop a simple framework for transition taxonomies. The key policy messages of the analysis are: (i) Endeavor that taxonomies correspond to specific sustainability objectives; (ii) Encourage the development of transition taxonomies and focus alignment with the objectives of the Paris Agreement; (iii) Monitor and supervise the evolution of certification and verification processes; and (iv) Shift to mandatory impact reporting for green bonds.

JEL classification: G18, P00, Q01, Q58.

Keywords: green finance, sustainable finance, taxonomies, transition risk, Paris accord, greenwashing, certification, verification