The European Union said on Wednesday it had reached a deal on the 'world's first' set of comprehensive rules for issuing green bonds to meet the bloc's net-zero goals, although compliance will be on a voluntary basis.
Late on Tuesday, EU member states and the European Parliament jointly agreed standards for companies that want to use the term 'European green bond' or EuGB.
Currently investors are faced with a plethora of national practices on green bonds which can be hard to compare, though an attempt to make the EU norms mandatory failed.
The rules will enable investors to identify high quality green bonds and companies, thereby reducing greenwashing or exaggerated environmentally-friendly claims, parliament said.
"Tonight the EU has taken a big step to green this massive market by adopting the first regulation in the world on green bonds," lawmaker Paul Tang said in a statement.
Green Bond Market
The green bond market broke through the half trillion dollar mark in 2021 for the first time, with Europe accounting for just over half of the issuance. Green bond issuance, however, is still only about 3% to 3.5% of total bond issuance, parliament said.
The rules also put in place a clear reporting process on the use of the proceeds from the bond sale, and standardise how external reviewers verify that a bond is green, parliament said.
"All companies choosing to use the standard when marketing a green bond will be required to disclose much information about how the bond’s proceeds will be used, but are also obliged to show how those investments feed into the transition plans of the company as a whole," it added.
EU states and parliament need to formally rubber stamp the deal, which would apply a year after its entry into force.