Luxembourg, 9 November 2022 – How well do Luxembourg banks advise their customers on climate-friendly investments? To find out, Greenpeace carried out a “mystery shopping” at six banks based in Luxembourg [1]. The results showed considerable deficiencies in the products offered and in the expertise of the advisors. The test clients were recommended investment products that were advertised as climate-friendly when in fact they were not compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement. This is unacceptable given the urgency of the crisis we are facing. In view of the accelerating climate change, Greenpeace demands that Luxembourg banks immediately start offering investment products that actually redirect capital into a climate-friendly economy. 

The analysis of the products recommended by the consultants revealed that none of the investment products offered meet the claim of investing in line with the Paris climate goals,” explains Dr Martin Granzow, financial expert at Nextra Consulting GmbH and author of the report. “None of the products advertised as climate-friendly follows a reduction path for the greenhouse gas intensity of the contained companies that is compatible with the goal of a maximum global warming of 1.5 degrees.

Sustainable investments are “in”. More and more bank clients want to invest their money sustainably. “Green finance” and “sustainable finance” have developed from a market niche into a mainstay of the financial sector. At the same time, however, it is becoming clear that many “green” financial products do not deliver on their promises. For Greenpeace, the results of the mystery shopping are further proof that, while promoting its “Sustainable Finance” capacities, the Luxembourg financial centre is in fact guilty of greenwashing.

According to an opinion poll commissioned by the Luxembourg Sustainable Finance Initiative (LSFI), the ABBL Foundation and the financial regulator CSSF and published in September 2022, about half of the respondents did not know or had difficulty understanding what sustainable finance was. The LSFI, ABBL and CSSF have recognised the fact that a current priority is to educate bank customers on sustainable investing.

The mystery shopping has made one thing clear: the banks must first do their own homework so that they can competently advise customers on sustainable investments“, explains Martina Holbach, Campaigner for Sustainable Finance at Greenpeace Luxembourg. “The banks’ advisors must be comprehensively trained in sustainable financial products. Above all, climate-friendly financial products that invest in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement must become the standard at Luxembourg banks.

So far, the European legislation on sustainable finance has not been able to put a stop to greenwashing in the financial sector. A recent study [2] by Greenpeace Luxembourg and Greenpeace Switzerland concluded that so-called sustainable investment funds have so far not succeeded in directing significantly more capital towards a sustainable economy than conventional funds. Yet, a climate-friendly economy is an important factor in the fight against the climate crisis.

Greenpeace expects the Luxembourg government to set ambitious requirements for climate-friendly investments in Luxembourg,” says Myrna Koster, Climate Justice Campaigner at Greenpeace Luxembourg. “Financial incentives for investment products that are not in line with the Paris climate goals or run counter to other sustainability goals must be stopped.”

[1] A total of 19 mystery shoppers conducted 27 counselling interviews in a total of 6 different financial institutions. These included: Banque de Luxembourg, Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat (Spuerkeess), Banque Raiffeisen, BGL BNP Paribas, ING Groep

The report “Climate-friendly investments – An advisory check at Luxembourg banks – Results and Implications of a Mystery Shopping” is available in German and English.

A short briefing is available in French and in English.