Deputy Secretary General, OECD
Green Bonds Roundtable 10 December 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished delegates and guests,
Thank you for joining us during this final busy week of COP21 to discuss the prospects for the green bond market and all of the developments that have occurred recently.
I would like to thank Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies, our co-hosts, as well as ICMA, the Green Bond Principles and the Climate Bonds Initiative who have all helped, in different ways, to bring such a diverse group of the green bond ecosystem around the table today.
The world looks to COP21 to deliver a new climate agreement that transforms our development pathway. A net-zero, climate resilient world by the end of this century is no longer a hope - it is a necessity.
But our economies are hard-wired to fossil fuels. To overcome this carbon entanglement, countries need to implement strong climate policies, including strengthening carbon pricing and eliminating the USD 600 billion in support to fossil fuels they provide. Diagnosing and addressing the policy misalignments that impede and make this transition more costly are essential, as we argued in our Aligning Policies [for a Low-carbon Economy] Report recently with the IEA, NEA and ITF.
Aligning policies amounts to a fundamental rethink of the way we approach growth. We’re talking about a systemic transformation of power generation, industry, transport, buildings and land-use – in short, of our entire economies. This is a considerable challenge.
But it is also an incredible investment opportunity; an opportunity we must seize to generate new innovation, growth and jobs. We need success at COP to transmit a strong signal to the private sector. You need the confidence to plan and invest profitably if the transition is going to happen.
But why are we here today? An estimated USD 6.2 trillion in annual investment across transport, energy and water systems will be needed over the next 15 years to meet global infrastructure needs while ensuring the transition to a low-carbon economy (1). We are facing a serious green investment financing gap.
The challenge will be to shift away from emissions-intensive investments while scaling up green investment despite constraints on traditional sources of capital.
Governments will need to consider in particular how they can foster the transformation of the global bond markets to finance the low-carbon transition.
Bonds have the potential to provide low-cost, long-term sources of debt capital; they can directly finance or re-finance investments, and can “recycle” loans, leading to increased lending.
Bonds can also tap into a deep global pool of capital with a diverse base of investors. In particular, as shown in our Mapping Channels [to Mobilise Institutional Investment in Sustainable Energy] Report for the G20, bonds connect investment needs with the latent demand for sustainable investments from institutional investors. Institutional investor asset holdings are projected to increase to USD 120 trillion by 2019 in the OECD (2).
Green bonds have been the subject of increasing government, investor and media interest and expectations due in part to the explosive growth in the market, surpassing 40 billion in issuance already this year (3). But behind this growth is the success of the important market and government-led efforts represented around the table.
Today, we release an OECD/Bloomberg Philanthropies Policy Perspectives Report, which describes the emergence and evolution of the green bond market and previews a forthcoming OECD report on the topic.
Our report to be released in April, takes stock of developments in the market, and proposes a quantitative framework to analyse the potential contribution that bonds can make to a low-carbon transition, considering scenarios for future market evolution. My colleague Christopher Kaminker will give you a preview of these shortly.
We will also provide recommendations to policy makers to overcome barriers and help to grow a sustainable green bond market that matures with environmental integrity.
I would like to now give the floor to my co-host, Lenora Suki, to provide a market perspective and set the stage for the discussion.
2. OECD (2015), OECD Business and Finance Outlook 2015, OECD Publishing, Paris.
3. Climate Bonds Initiative, Labelled Green Bonds Database (accessed December 8, 2015).