Global green bond issuance hit record $29.64bn in Q1 2018

Global green bond issuance hit a record $29.64bn in Q1 2018, surpassing a previous high in Q3 2017, which stood at $29.5bn. New research published by Linklaters today shows that the value of issuance in Q1 2018 is up by 9.4% compared to the same point last year. Green bonds aim to have environmental or climate-related benefits that can increase the flow of funds to environmentally beneficial projects, which can in turn reduce the projects’ costs.

 

In Q1 2018, Belgium took the lion’s share of global issuance by value with 18% at $5.5bn, followed by Indonesia with $3.29bn, Luxembourg with $3bn, China with $2.1bn and Canada with $1.98bn. There was a 64% increase in total value of issuances from 2016 to 2017 with $107.4bn worth of green bond issuances across the world. China led the way with $17.8bn worth of green bond issuances (16% of global issuances), followed by France with $16bn and the USA with $10bn.


Fig One: Country by Value breakdown

Value of issuance (US$)

Country

(US$)

 

Amrita Ahluwalia, Capital Markets lawyer at Linklaters, says:

“We have seen a record amount of green bond issuance in the first quarter of this year which gives a sense of how things will pan out this year. Compared to other instruments, the green bond market is still relatively small but is growing quickly and there has been a significant increase in demand and interest from mainstream investors over the last two years as they look to diversify their investment portfolio.” She says:
“We are seeing increased political and regulatory pressure in various jurisdictions which is leading to the increase in demand for green bonds from mainstream investors. The introduction in France of regulation on environmental reporting is a prime example of this and you can see the direct correlation with the volume of issuances. Since the first Climate Awareness Bond launched just over ten years ago, the green bond market has grown at a phenomenal rate. Some of the countries that top that table for issuances don’t come as a surprise, China, for example, has invested heavily in green finance, partly through the One Belt One Road Initiative. However, we are seeing an increase in volume and range of borrowers from around the world, and evidence of tighter pricing in the green bond market now as a result of such demand”

 

Fig Two: Issuance by quarter


Value (US$)

Period (Quarter, Year)

Value (US$)

However, green bond issuance in the UK has been of much smaller amounts, with issuance in 2017 totalling $2.7bn, only 2.5% of the global total. Whilst this up by 184% compared to 2016, the first quarter of this year has only seen $95m worth of green bond issuance in the UK.

 

Melanie Shanker, Energy and Infrastructure lawyer at Linklaters, says:

“If you look purely at Q1 issuance levels, on paper, the UK looks less active than other markets. However, there are other encouraging signs of wider support for green finance in the UK. The UK Green Finance Taskforce recently published a report on accelerating green infrastructure investment, including a recommendation for the UK to issue a Sovereign Green Bond in the order of the French sovereign green bond programme (EUR9.697 billion) as part of a UK Green Capital Raising Plan. If the Government were to do this, it would not only send a strong signal that the UK is a leader in green finance, it could stimulate private sector investment.”

 

 

She highlights that whilst it is encouraging that we are seeing an increase in issuance, there may be greater focus going forward on looking behind the numbers at the investments themselves. She says:

“The use and impact of proceeds are key challenges for the integrity of the green bond market which is why certification of green bonds is gaining more traction. Recently both the UK Green Finance Taskforce and the EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance recommended that green bond standards are introduced.”