The study authors Armand Colard and Josef Obergantschnig. Copyright by ESG+/Ethico.

Study confirms: Ecolabel funds very sustainable

A recent study on the sustainability quality of about 2000 equity funds confirms that funds with the Austrian Ecolabel are particularly sustainable.

The empirical analysis was carried out by financial experts from ESG+ and Obergantschnig Financial Strategies - both of which also test funds for the Austrian Ecolabel. The pleasing result: funds with the Ecolabel are even more sustainable than "dark green" funds according to Article 9 of the Disclosure Regulation.

Disclosure what?

More and more funds are advertising sustainability. However, it is not always clear to private investors whether these are actually sustainable fund products. For this reason, the EU has passed the so-called Disclosure Regulation to create more transparency. Since then, fund providers must disclose the consideration of sustainability aspects in their investment strategies and fund products. For this purpose, there is a product categorisation of funds according to Article 6 (no sustainability in the investment focus), Article 8 (advertising of environmental/social features) or Article 9 (sustainable investments with sustainable investment objectives).

Accordingly, the present study examined the respective categorised funds for their actual sustainability quality - and compared them with Ecolabel funds.

Austrian Ecolabel: High quality standard

Not surprisingly, "dark green" Article 9 funds are more sustainable than "light green" Article 8 funds, which in turn are more sustainable than "grey" Article 6 funds, which do not take sustainability into account at all. So far, so predictable. A pleasing finding: Ecolabel funds are the most sustainable funds in the spectrum of the study - and even more sustainable than "dark green" Article 9 funds. In addition, the fluctuation range in terms of sustainability is smaller for Ecolabel funds: among Article 8 funds there are very sustainable funds - but also those that are rather unsustainable. Study author Armand Colard, CEO of ESG Plus, says: "This means that private investors should not regard the mere classification as a light green Article 8 fund as a 'quality label', as this does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the sustainability quality.

So: If you want to focus on real sustainability, it is best to look for the Austrian Ecolabel. Josef Obergantschnig, author of the study and President of the Ethico Association, agrees: "The Ecolabel, on the other hand, can serve private individuals as a guarantee for higher sustainability quality."

Transparency unequal to labelling

The study confirms that legal product categorisation and transparency requirements do not replace serious quality labels such as the Austrian Ecolabel. Only in the case of Ecolabel certified funds can investors be sure that all aspects relevant from a sustainability point of view have been taken into account. This is also shown by the detailed analysis of the study: Ecolabel funds, for example, show the best results in six out of ten criteria (e.g. "free of nuclear energy", "free of weapons", "free of coal", etc.).

Accordingly, the Austrian Ecolabel is a genuine and credible quality standard - in contrast to the European disclosure requirements. The Ecolabel stands for stable and clear sustainability quality - as confirmed by the present external analysis. But an analysis by the VKI also recently showed that the carbon footprint of Ecolabel funds is 72% lower than that of conventional funds. The Ecolabel thus has a multi-layered effect.