September 16, 2020
By Yoruk Bahceli
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Global green bond sales are heading for another record year as a flurry of September deals, including Germany’s debut sovereign issue, have roused the market from a coronavirus-induced lull.
Green issues, which source financing for environmentally beneficial expenditures, are crucial to the growing pool of money dedicated to investing sustainably. Sales slumped when the pandemic erupted but are now back on track.
Worth around $700 billion worldwide, the market’s prospects were boosted this year by the European Union’s 750 billion-euro coronavirus recovery fund. Around a third of it should be financed by green debt, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.
Issuance of EU green debt, which may eventually double the global green bond universe, is yet to start but year-to-date issuance by other borrowers has reached $150 billion, topping that raised by this point last year, according to data from Dealogic.
Most notable was Germany’s debut green bond, the first step towards establishing a pricing reference point for regional borrowers which should entice more borrowers into the market.
Other big names hitting green markets in September were Sweden, JPMorgan <JPM> and Daimler <DAIGn.DE>. On Wednesday, Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> saw big demand for its green deal despite being tainted by an old emissions cheating scandal.
Graphic: Green bond market on track for growth – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/xegvbjkqqvq/mO084-green-bond-market-on-track-for-growth-after-covid-hit.png
Joshua Kendall, head of responsible investment research and stewardship at Insight Investment, expects green issuance to surpass the 2019 record of $206 billion — unless the pandemic slows markets again. Another forecast, by ratings agency Moody’s, says full-year issuance could hit as much as $225 billion.
“Companies are recognising that they had to, maybe, hold off on their plans, but I don’t think there was any concern that it would be a permanent change or an adjustment,” Kendall said.
“The (green) bond market is fairly resilient and companies are very committed to this issue.”
STILL A WAY TO GO
Despite its fast paced growth, the green bond market only accounted for 3.5% of last year’s total global bond issuance of $7.15 trillion, according to the Bank for International Settlement.
And the lead green debt enjoyed over the other two main avenues of sustainable fundraising – social bonds and sustainable bonds, a blend of green and social – has been eroded this year.
That’s because the coronavirus outbreak has spurred a rise in social bond sales, many earmarked to fund coronavirus-related spending.
Social bonds account for 21% of all sustainable issuance this year, versus 6% in 2019, while the share of green bonds has declined to 62%, down from 79% last year, Dealogic data up to Sept 10 shows.
Finnish public sector lender MuniFin and French agency Caisse d’Amortissement de la Dette Sociale (CADES) are among those to have issued social bonds in September.
“As we’re normalising to the COVID economy, I don’t think green is going anywhere,” said Trisha Taneja, head of ESG advisory at Deutsche Bank, one of the banks which managed the German sale.
“I think social will simultaneously rise, but not at the expense of green.”
Graphic: Green bond lead declines – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qzjvqnkogpx/18UnR-green-bond-lead-in-esg-issuance-declines-in-2020.png
(Reporting by Yoruk Bahceli; editing by Sujata Rao, Kirsten Donovan)