July 25, 2024

Top recipients of European green funds are major auto polluters

Carmakers, oil and gas companies, and textile manufacturers are among the largest beneficiaries of European green funds, despite their significant impact on climate change. A recent investigation by Voxeurop and European Investigative Collaborations revealed that Toyota, for instance, received €3 billion from these funds, despite only 2% of its vehicles being zero-emissions.

As per the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), investments labeled as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) must fall under Article 8 or Article 9 funds. Article 8 funds are categorized as ‘light green,’ aiming to promote environmental or social characteristics, while Article 9 funds prioritize sustainable investments.

The analysis of over 4,000 green funds (Articles 8 and 9) from nearly 800 financial institutions across Europe unveiled that 200 of the world’s most polluting companies received $85 billion from Article 8 funds and $2 billion from Article 9 funds.

Interestingly, three car manufacturers rank among the top 10 recipients of these green funds. Stellantis, Mercedes, and Toyota received significant investments, supporting activities responsible for nearly 30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Despite receiving billions in funding, their zero-emission vehicle shares are relatively low, indicating that most investments are directed towards carbon-intensive operations.

Furthermore, including aircraft manufacturer Airbus in the list of top recipients is notable, considering the high percentage of fossil fuels used in its commercial aircraft.

Xavier Sol, Sustainable Finance Director at T&E, emphasized the need for private capital to accelerate the green transition and cautioned against investments in companies that do not align with climate goals. T&E recommends urgent revisions to the SFDR by the European Commission to curb greenwashing in the financial sector.

The investigative work was carried out by Giorgio Michalopoulos and Stefano Valentino, in collaboration with Voxeurop and European Investigative Collaborations.


Can investments in polluting companies be considered sustainable?

No, investments in companies with high carbon emissions cannot be deemed sustainable as they hinder the transition to a greener economy.

What changes are recommended for the EU’s SFDR?

T&E suggests revising the SFDR to ensure that only investments in green activities, such as zero-emission technologies, receive a sustainable label.


The investigation highlights the need for greater scrutiny in sustainable investments to truly support the transition to a low-carbon economy. By revising regulations and holding financial institutions accountable, the EU can steer investments towards activities that promote environmental sustainability.

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