Framework and application of the EU taxonomy
Audit with limited assurance
Aims of the EU taxonomy
As a community of states, the European Union (EU) has set itself the aim of becoming climate neutral by 2050. Within the scope of the EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, the channelling of capital flows into sustainable investments is a key objective. In order to support this goal, the EU Taxonomy Regulation came into force in mid- 2020. It is a uniform and legally binding classification system that defines which economic activities in the EU can be deemed “environmentally sustainable”. Company-specific information on the results of this classification must be reported annually. In June 2021, the final classifications for environmentally sustainable economic activities were published for the first two of the six environmental objectives. The following six environmental objectives are listed in Section 9 of the Taxonomy Regulation:
- Climate change mitigation
- Climate change adaptation
- Sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources
- Transition to a circular economy
- Pollution prevention and control
- Protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems
The EU has currently published requirements for sustainable economic activities under the EU taxonomy (EU catalogue) for the two environmental objectives of “climate change mitigation” and “climate change adaptation”. The description of the economic activity in the delegated acts determines which economic activities can generally be considered.
Definition of sustainable economic activities
With regard to the classification of an economic activity as “environmentally sustainable” under the EU taxonomy, it is necessary to distinguish between taxonomy eligibility and taxonomy alignment. The first step is to check whether an economic activity is described in the delegated act and thus taxonomy-eligible. Economic activities which are exclusively taxonomy-eligible can then be identified as taxonomy-aligned and therefore sustainable. This requires that these economic activities fulfil three conditions: they must contribute to an environmental objective and they must not cause significant harm to any of the six environmental objectives in any way, i.e. have a negative impact on them. Furthermore, these activities must fulfil minimum safeguards, such as compliance with human rights.
Application of the EU taxonomy
As a result of Section 315b (1) HGB and Art. 8 (1) Taxonomy Regulation, HHLA is obliged to comply with the requirements set out in the Taxonomy Regulation. Under the provisions of the Taxonomy Regulation, the share of taxonomy-eligible economic activities within revenue, capital expenditure and operating expenses was reported in the 2021 reporting year. Disclosure of the share of taxonomy-aligned economic activities is required for the first time for the 2022 financial year. All of HHLA’s fully consolidated affiliates are included in this analysis.