Singapore wants global standards for green financing

Business

Booming green finance markets need to be subject to stronger global regulation to ensure the best results for investors and the planet, Singapore’s Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu told Reuters.

Companies are under increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions and burnish their sustainability credentials, fuelling a flurry of investment in financial instruments, such as green bonds and carbon credits.

Asia-Pacific borrowers more than doubled issuance of bonds tied to environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes to a record $69 billion this year.

Money raised through these bonds should fund projects that have a positive impact on the environment but standards, rankings and metrics vary widely, making it difficult to judge the quality of a sustainable investment.

“The market is fairly fragmented and we don’t have very consistent standards being agreed globally,” Fu said in an interview at the “Reuters Events: Global Energy Transition” conference.

Fu said one way to set rules was through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty.

“The world will benefit from a more harmonised and integrated market,” she said.

Some companies are trying to reduce their impact on the environment by buying carbon credits, which can be used to offset the greenhouse gases they emit.

But the carbon credit market is disorganised, lacks transparency, and some of the credits have not resulted in significant emission reductions, a study published in January by consultancy McKinsey, found.

Singapore, one of Asia’s biggest financial centres, is developing a global exchange and marketplace for carbon credits.

“If we can get better standards and implement it … giving greater confidence to investors and issuers, then we will have a better and more stable market for carbon credits,” Fu said.