Green Bond Principles: BankTrack & NGO group "cautiously welcome", but call for transparency, science-based criteria for 'green' & independent verification

BankTrack is a global network of civil society groups tracking the operations and investments of commercial banks and "their effect on people and the planet".

This week they published a letter to the Green Bond Principles signatory banks, giving a cautious welcome to the Principles, but saying that the lack of clarity over what projects can be considered "green" risked setting the project up to fail.

BankTrack director Johan Frijns said: "Principles which allow banks to decide for themselves what is and isn't ‘green' do not exactly inspire confidence".

They also call for banks to:

  • Ensure high standards of transparency and disclosure for bond issuances they underwrite
  • Reference clear and science-based definitions and criteria of what constitutes ‘green' under the Principles
  • Commit unambiguously to third party, independent verification of the information on sustainability and use of proceeds reported by Green Bond issuers.

(BTW, they suggest using the Climate Bonds Initiative criteria, referenced in the appendix to the Principles, as a useful starting point.)

The letter came out just after it was announced 12 new banks had joined up. It was co-signed by Friends of the Earth US, Rainforest Action Network, International Rivers, Amigos da Terra - Amazonia Brasileira, Global Witness and Berne Declaration.

The letter also called on banks to match their commitment to growing the green bond market with an urgent move to curb fossil fuel financing in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

See the full text here.