Ladies and gentlemen - good afternoon.
We need a great deal of finance to tackle the frightening changes that threaten our planet.
That is why Europe was among the first to focus on sustainable finance.
Several years ago, we identified ways to reform and refocus the financial system to raise the investment needed to cut emissions.
Since then, the EU has raised its ambition. And it was just this morning we reached a political agreement on the European Climate Law. It sets the EU's commitment to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 and to go climate-neutral by 2050.
None of that will be cheap.
Just to meet our 2030 targets will require €350 billion of extra investments per year, over the next decade.
So we needed to come up with a way to stimulate more capital flows into green activities. We designed the world's first classification system for sustainable economic activities: taxonomy.
We created a common language for investors who want to use their funds to make a substantial positive impact on the climate and the environment.
It helps them to know what is green.
It sorts the green from the greenwash.
Now we are taking taxonomy one step further.
Today, we have published the criteria for economic activities that can make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
We also define criteria for when the activities can be considered as doing “no significant harm” to the other environmental objectives of the taxonomy system.
This has not been an easy task.
And I can frankly say that on no other issue have I seen such a wide range of opposing views and approaches.
They came from the many thousands of contributions we received from businesses, scientists, experts and civil society - not to mention different views that we heard from Member States and Members of the European Parliament, of all political persuasions.
We had to bridge those differences. Now, I believe that we have produced a balanced and ambitious proposal that will be a template for Europe's green future.
It will help companies and investors to identify and communicate about green activities - across all sectors of the economy.
It will give them a common understanding of what needs to be done to meet our climate goals.
And it will be the basis for setting reliable labels and standards for financial products.
The taxonomy system covers 13 sectors - including renewable energy, transport, forestry, manufacturing and buildings - that together account for nearly 80% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.
Today's Delegated Act will continue to evolve in line with the science and technology. It is the result of intensive work with experts.
I would like to thank all colleagues for all their hard work and input, particularly the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance and the Platform on Sustainable Finance.
As you may know, for both nuclear and gas activities - which are not part of today's first taxonomy documents - we will set out the next steps later this year.
On nuclear energy, the Commission will follow up on the ongoing dedicated scientific assessment.
On gas, we will consider including certain activities within the legal limits set by the taxonomy regulation, and based on scientific expertise.
We will also consider additional legislation to recognise the role of gas in facilitating the switch from coal and oil. This would be outside of the taxonomy.
Today, we have also increased the transparency of sustainable finance by improving the way that companies report on how their activities affect people and the environment.
Large and listed companies will have to report what they do on sustainability: from their impact on the environment, on how they treat employees and their respect for human rights.
Smaller listed companies will have to report as well. But they will be subject to different and simplified standards.
This makes sure that they still appear on the radar of investors looking to fund sustainable activities.
But it will cost less for the SMEs concerned.
These improved rules will use common reporting standards to facilitate disclosures and comparability of information.
We make sure that they build on and contribute to international standards as far as possible
They will provide a strong signal to investors and allow them to make informed decisions.
Over time, this should bring sustainability reporting onto a par with financial reporting. Sharing information on sustainability will increasingly become a fact of business life.
Climate change is a global challenge.
It is important for the EU to fight it - but it is equally important that the rest of the world does so too.
That is the aim of the international platform on sustainable finance, which we set up to work together on a green global financial system.
Later this week, Mairead and I will attend the leaders' summit on climate hosted by President Biden, where sustainable finance is a key topic.
Both of today's initiatives will strengthen our foundations for sustainable investment. They will build on the impressive amount of work that Europe has done over the years to promote sustainable finance - and will take it further still.
And they will help us to play our part in tackling climate change and build back greener after the crisis.