10 April 2017
Issuance from China soared from just $1.3 billion in 2015 (from just two bonds) to $30.5 billion (from 31 issues) last year, representing some 39% of the global market.
Industrial Bank alone issued some $7.8 billion, making it the largest issuer in the global market last year.
The bank claims strong green credentials, having been the first Chinese bank to sign up to the Equator Principles for managing environmental risks in project finance.
It also signed the UN-backed ‘Statement by financial institutions on energy efficiency’ in December 2015 and already reports on the environmental impact of its lending in terms of emissions reduced, and savings in waste and water. The bank was also an early mover in engaging with the country’s new national carbon market.
“For commercial banks, green finance serves both the business interest and the need to perform social responsibilities,” said Fang Zhiyong, general manager of environmental finance.
The bank issued four green bonds last year and said the proceeds would be spent on: energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transport, climate change adaptation, pollution prevention and control, biodiversity conservation, and resource conservation and recycling.
The Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) noted, however, that these criteria would allow some of the proceeds to be allocated to ‘clean coal’ projects, which mean they do not meet international standards for green bonds, although they do comply with the guidelines issued by the People’s Bank of China.
The CBI is urging China to harmonise its regulations with international standards but estimates that 80% of the Industrial Bank’s bond proceeds would already comply with the international criteria.
Industrial Bank is one of the ten largest banks in China. It was founded in 1988 in Fuzhou in the southeast of the country and its shares were listed on the Shanghai stock exchange in 2007. It now has more than 100 branches and 1,435 sub-branches across the country as well as numerous subsidiaries and affiliates.