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London financial district launches push to boost green bonds

By Huw Jones (Reuters) | 14 January 2016

LONDON, London’s financial district launched a push on Thursday to encourage pension and insurance funds to invest more in green bonds and help the fledgling sector grow in Britain.

Green bonds were pioneered by the World Bank and refer to the issuance of $100 billion of debt so far worldwide for funding clean energy or low-carbon infrastructure projects like water treatment, and wind and solar farms.

“We are looking at how can the financial world do more to support this. It’s a minuscule part of the overall bond market at the moment,” said Roger Gifford, chair of the new Green Finance Initiative launched on Thursday at an event hosted by the City of London Corporation.

The green bond market was more active in Paris and New York than in London, and Gifford said the initial focus of the campaign will be on creating a framework for the sector.

While green bonds are no different from other bonds, to qualify they must finance environmentally sound projects, but there are differing views across the world on what this means.

“It’s about creating the standards, framework, accreditation procedures and international guidelines between countries and agencies, which further green issuance that takes heed of those principles,” Gifford told Reuters.

“It will take time to get workable standards in place that people feel they are able to use. One country’s green is not another country’s green,” for former mayor of the City of London added.

The City of London, the municipal authority which runs the traditional “square mile” financial district in Britain’s capital, wants the Green Finance Initiative to replicate similar campaigns to make the capital a centre for Islamic finance and Renminbi trading.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Katharine Houreld)

Topics

Climate and Energy, Corporate Governance

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