Ensure that these assessments are performed by credible independent entities and the problem of greenwashing can be avoided altogether. The financial sector takes this issue most seriously, one consequence of which is that smaller companies in particular find themselves with very high standards to meet.
Multinationals often have a dedicated sustainability department to help them make the grade, but SMEs have it tougher: all the diligence and good intentions in the world cannot make up for a shortfall in personnel and expertise.
"We have an important part to play here as advisor and guide," says Ina Liermann. "We want to make sure small and midsize companies are not left behind."
Some questions come up time and again: what do the elements of the EU taxonomy mean for the way I conduct my business? What are the critical KPIs? How and by whom can I have our performance evaluated and certified?
"We have the expertise to be able to help business customers find their feet and realise the importance of the subject," says Helaba debt capital markets expert Klaus Distler. One point the discussions soon make clear is that greenwashing is no longer an option. "The rules are too sharply defined for that," says Distler, "and the politicians, the public and the lenders are much too streetwise to be taken in."