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Sustainability-linked debt: the risk of ESG-washing

Sustainability-linked debt: the risk of ESG-washing

Sustainability-linked loans and bonds may have different sustainability performance targets and pricing mechanisms from one another, but innovative new pricing structures may increase the risk of 'ESG-washing' across the whole asset class, Lori Shapiro writes

Sustainable Bonds Insight 2021

Sustainable Bonds Insight 2021

Sustainable Bonds Insight 2021

This free-to-download report includes graphics and data from the Environmental Finance Bond Database to illustrate the main trends in the market in 2020 together with forward-looking commentary from leading market commentators

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Sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs), which were pioneered by Enel in late 2019 saw slow uptake through to the end of the first half of 2020, but after the ICMA published guidelines in June 2020 both the volume and value of SLBs have risen steadily. The value of SLBs issued in the first quarter of 2021 was roughly equal to the value of SLBs in the whole of 2020 and the value of SLBs issued in Q2 2021 was over double that, bringing total issuance of SLBs to over $40 billion.

Corporates have accounted for nearly 97% of the total value of SLBs issued so far. Geographically, Europe has dominated, with over 65% of the value of SLB market, but there has been strong uptake in South America, with the region being the second largest issuer of SLBs both in terms of value and volume of bonds issued.

Data was taken as of 24 June 2021.

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