Providing independent assurance report to determine eligibility of bond against Climate Bond Initiative Standard.
Greenbond emissions continued to rise in 2018 after a record growth of more than 75% between 2016 and 2017. It reached more than $150 billion at the end of that year. The trend for the coming years confirms that the market will continue to follow this growth and become more complex. Therefore, the need for investors to be accompanied by independent third parties capable of certifying their bond securities, and guiding them in their investment decisions, is growing steadily.
Since the end of 2018, Greensolver has been certified as a Climate Bond Verifier. This certification, issued by the international Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), now allows Greensolver to certify renewable projects aspiring to be financed by Climate Bond Standard labeled Greenbonds.
What is a Green Bond?
Created in 2007, when banks launched themed debt securities, they aim to channel financing towards a specific use.
A Greenbond is a bond title issued by a company or public entity, aimed at funding one or more projects that contribute to the ecological transition.
The assets financed by the Greenbonds have two characteristics:
- The sector of activity: renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, sustainable management of natural resources, adaptation to climate change, etc.
- Measuring the impact based on a specific set of criteria: avoided greenhouse gas emissions, etc.
The difference with conventional bonds is in the commitments made by the issuer. Market raised funds should only finance projects that have a positive impact on the environment. The selection criteria are defined by the CBI, and the adequacy of the projects with the standards is reviewed by an auditor such as Greensolver. In order to ensure the integrity of the Climate Bond Standard and the compliance with investors’ CSR objectives, the issuer must carry out an annual report to confirm that funds are allocated in the projects.
The first issue of Greenbond was made by the World Bank in 2008. Since then, these bonds have grown dramatically, and France is now the second largest issuer of Greenbonds in the world.
Why finance or issue a Green Bond?
Investors are giving a clear message to the market that their long-term investment strategy is consistent with the ecological transition and that they understand its risks and opportunities. As such, these titles, when clearly labelled, allow them to communicate on their strategic decisions. They give credibility and visibility to their commitments. This visibility is even more crucial for institutional investors who, on the sidelines of the COP 21, signed the charters of “Principles for Responsible Investments” (PRI) and of the “Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change” (IIGCC), committing to a minimum investment against climate change.
Investors are increasingly aware of the climate emergency. They are of course involved in the energy transition for ethical reasons, but also to mitigate the long-term risks and maximize their return on investment. Moreover, they seek to protect their customer base by answering to savers request for investment in the ecological transition.
For Greenbond issuers, access to long-term financing is crucial in a context where the need to make the energy mix evolve, the desire of States for more energy independence, the market concentration, and the decline in subsidies lead to ever bigger projects, requiring bigger investments.
To this date, there is no regulatory definition of Greenbonds, issuers can declare their obligations as Green without any verification on the projects to be financed, nor on the allocation of funds for a project.
On the other hand, in order to access certain sources of financing, investors must ensure that the impact of the assets they finance is real and positive. Therefore, several initiatives, aimed at labeling and standardizing the Greenbond issuing process, have emerged. Notably the Green Bond Principles and the Climate Bond Initiative. The aim is to define a framework, in terms of projects evaluation and selection process, to reassure investors and thus allow to unlock higher funding volumes.
The Climate Bond Standard (CBS) includes industry-specific eligibility criteria. The Greenbonds are only labelled as compliant with the CBS when a certified auditor audited the projects and ensured that they complied with these pre-defined criteria.
Why labeling your Green bond with CBI?
As Greenbonds are certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative prior to their release on the market, the label is used as a marketing tool by issuers during the fundraising phase. It assures investors that the impact of the projects to be financed will be real and positive for the climate.
What is the certification process?
Auditors play an important role in assessing the issuer’s proposed bonds’ compliance with the requirements of climate bond standards, and then provide issuers with a report.
The certification process consists of two distinct phases that must be completed for every Greenbond emission. Both phases are aligned with the normal process of issuing an obligation. This approach allows the use of the Climate Bond Initiative label when pricing and marketing the Greenbond, as well as to guarantee the integrity of the label after its issuance.
Phase 1 - Pre-issuance Certification
The Pre-issuance audit focuses on comparing eligible assets with the selection criteria, as well as on the traceability and reporting process of the issuer.
Phase 2 - Post-issuance Certification
The Post-issuance audit aims at ensuring that funds are allocated to the projects reviewed in Phase 1 and that the project comply with the selection criteria. It also looks at the traceability of funds that have not yet been used, and at the quality of reporting. An insurance report is then submitted by Greensolver.
What about Greensolver?
Greensolver intervenes in the process as a “Verifier”, as worded by CBI. CBI granted us this title of certified auditor at the end of 2018, making Greensolver the first 100% renewable energy player to be certified.
“Our role in the certification process is critical to determining the compliance of wind and solar projects with the standards set by the Climate Bond Initiative. As an independent expert in the renewable sector, this certification is only the logical continuation of our development, after the operation, construction and audit of renewable assets. This certification demonstrates not only our ability to adapt quickly to the ever-changing market, but also the great versatility of our teams. We are all very pleased and looking forward to working with CBI on these new projects.” commented Guy Auger, Chairman and CEO of Greensolver.
“We are delighted to welcome Greensolver to our ranks to certify new bonds. As our latest study shows, we expect Greenbond emissions to increase by 2020. Thanks to their expertise, players like Greensolver are helping to raise awareness and establish better practices in the marketplace. They are an essential element in the development of green finance”. added Sean Kidney, President and CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative.
Greenbond certification now allows us to further expand the range of services offered by Greensolver’s financial teams. They are currently in charge of the administrative, financial and tax management of 90 SPV (including 1,300 MW in operation) of solar and wind farms located across Europe, including France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Sweden, Spain and Italy, for about 20 investment funds and developers, all among the most recognized and demanding ones in the renewable energy market.
Formerly part of investment funds, our teams have been directly involved in numerous purchasing, selling, financing and refinancing transactions of renewable projects and portfolios. This experience allows us to understand the financial stakes not only at the level of the SPV, but also at the Holding and at the fund one, from the development phase to the operation one (drawing management, cash flow forecast, budget, etc.). This service adds up perfectly with the technical management of renewable projects and allows us to have the necessary hindsight when we audit financial models for the technical due diligence missions that are entrusted to us.