Green bonds channel private-sector funding to the climate

WHEN Donald Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement on June 1st, he spelled out that it would no longer contribute to the Green Climate Fund. This is a UN initiative to use rich countries’ money to bring climate finance to developing ones. But even if the fund were going swimmingly, public-sector finance would only be able to provide a small part of the cash needed by poor countries, and indeed the world.

Private markets, however, are mobilising—notably that for “green bonds”, which tie the proceeds of bond issues to environmentally friendly investments. The market started a decade ago with issues from municipalities and multilateral development banks, worth just a few hundred million dollars annually.

By 2016 issuance had grown to $97bn, of which $32bn came from China alone; SEB, a Swedish bank, reckons volumes may hit $125bn this year. Public-sector issuers together accounted for only around 30% of the total last year. The largest portion, over 35%, was issued by financial institutions; around 20% came from other companies. Investor demand, too, is booming. Zurich Insurance, a Swiss insurer, has already invested over $1.2bn in green bonds, with plans to reach $2bn; BlackRock and other asset managers have set up dedicated green-bond funds.

As for the proceeds, over 40% is used to finance clean energy; nearly…Continue reading

from Business and finance

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