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Tracking the growth of green bonds

Elaine Tan
Elaine Tan
Senior Analyst, Deals Intelligence

Green bonds raised US$86 billion in the first half of 2019 as the growth in sustainable finance continued. Bond market insight from Refinitiv reveal the global #DealTrends and where investor interest in green finance is greatest.


  1. Bond market analysis from Refinitiv reveal that green bonds raised $86 billion in the first half of 2019, a rise of 26 percent on a year earlier.
  2. All regions saw a rise in the amount raised by green bonds, with Asia Pacific up 30 percent year-on-year for a 22 percent market share.
  3. Europe’s dominance of green bonds is driven by France, which accounts for 13.4 percent of the global total, making it the most active issuer nation.

Investor interest in green bonds grew rapidly in the first half of 2019, with US$86 billion raised globally — a 26 percent increase on the same period last year.

Green bonds gain momentum in H1

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The growth of green bonds continues to be strongest in Europe, where a 55 percent market share is driven by France accounting for 13.4 percent of the global total, making it the most active issuer nation.

Europe leads green bonds, while China emerges as key player

French energy giant Engie SA was the largest corporate issuer of the period. Germany also had a busy opening six months, taking an eight percent market share, which included a record single offering from KfW Bankengruppe for $3.4 billion.

Growth of green bonds

“Green bonds, and sustainable financing deals in general, have consistently been on the rise for the last few years. This reflects growing focus from companies and investors on environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations and how companies can drive outcomes against the UN 2030 sustainable development goals,” said Leon Saunders Calvert, Head of Sustainable Investing & Fund Ratings at Refinitiv.

He added: “This drives the need for further data coverage of this space, such as detail around the use of proceeds from green bond issuance and how issuers will improve their environmental footprint as a result.”

Proceeds from green bonds are earmarked for investment in environmentally friendly projects. While green bonds currently account for a small portion of the global bond market, regions such as Asia have been working hard to catch up with the progress already seen in Europe.

The Asia Pacific region achieved a 25 percent market share in the half-year period, having grown 30 percent year-on-year. The Americas is in third place with 19 percent of the green bond market.

However, a flattening of growth in China and a 60 percent growth surge in the U.S. saw the latter take second place as the most active issuer nation, narrowing the gap between the two regions.

Corporate borrowers

Elsewhere, Japan saw 73 percent growth, issuing $2.2 billion in the first half, while there was strong growth in South Korea, which issued $3.9 billion from a very low base last year.

Other first-half highlights include Hong Kong’s inaugural green bond of $1 billion, and Chile’s $1.4bn sovereign issue.

The dominance of government agencies and financials in the issuance of green bonds has been significantly diversified in the past year, with the energy and power sector in particular taking a much larger slice of a larger pie, from 13 percent in H1 2018 to 23 percent in H1 2019.

Global Green Bonds H1 Review

Corporate borrowers across a variety of sectors have also emerged as active issuers, including Apple, Starbucks, and Verizon Communications.

Starbucks, for example, announced a $1 billion sustainability bond, the proceeds of which will go to supporting the purchase of ethically sourced coffee and farmer support programs. It is the company’s third such bond and its largest to date.

Our green bond market analysis and league tables are via our partnership with the Climate Bonds Initiative, the industry standard for green bonds.

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