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The Role of Labels in Green Finance: Construction and Regulation of a Label Market in France

Jean-Pascal Gond *** Professeur, directeur d'ETHOS (The Centre for Responsible Enterprise), City, University of London, Royaume-Uni. Contact :
Patricia Crifo * Professeure, École Polytechnique ; chercheuse, CREST ; directrice adjointe, Centre Energy4Climate. Contact :
Rodolphe DURAND ** Joly Family Professor of Purposeful Leadership, Strategy Department, HEC Paris.Contact :

This article analyzes the development of green and socially responsible labels in Europe over the past decades, their construction dynamics, and questions the real benefits of a proliferation of labels in this industry. Does the multiplicity of factors contributing to the development of labels achieve the desired end or does it encumber the market with loud but uncertain signals? While household savings are at their highest and there is a demand for financing the ecological transition, does the proliferation of labels not complicate the readability of the market? We show that, instead of simplifying the choice of agents, the multiplication of labels tends to increase the noise provided by each of the quality signals and deteriorate confidence. Economic agents have less interest in benefiting from a generic label but are looking for less demanding labeling at a lower cost. The whole system can therefore play in a counterproductive way, each actor minimizing the intrinsic effort provided. As the number of labels grows, the information asymmetry grows and end investors may therefore turn away from labeled products. Only regulator can counter this trend.

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1   Exemple : dix principes du Pacte mondial des Nations unies.

2   Sunref mentionné, par exemple, dans le rapport Holroyd (2020) est un programme de crédit spécifique à l'AFD (Association française de développement).

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