- California Green Bond Market Development Committee released Green Bond disclosure guidelines.
- Breckinridge Senior Research Analyst Ruth Ducret brought to the committee an investor perspective, assisting in guideline development.
- Within the municipal bond market, there is the opportunity for greater issuance of labeled bonds given the often positive environmental and social impact inherent in these projects.
Green bond disclosure guidelines developed by the California Green Bond Market Development Committee reflect contributions from Breckinridge through my representation of the firm, offering an investor perspective.
The California Treasurer's office originally formed the committee to encourage more California state and local governments to issue green bonds. The committee was tasked with producing guidelines aimed at helping municipal bond issuers provide uniform and relevant disclosure when issuing green bonds. Though the effort launched in California, the guidelines can be a resource for issuers across the country who are interested in issuing bonds that fund projects with environmental benefits, with or without the green bond label. The goal of the project was both to increase the uniformity of disclosure while also making it easier for issuers to label their bonds as green.
I joined this effort on behalf of Breckinridge with several other municipal bond investors to assist in the creation of the guidelines. The committee’s report, titled “Recommended Approach to Municipal Green Bond Disclosure” was published in May.
Within the municipal bond market, there is the opportunity for greater issuance of labeled bonds given the often positive environmental and social impact inherent in these projects. However, currently, the quality and insight provided in municipal green bond disclosure widely varies with some issuers offering a significant amount of data and with others providing an insignificant amount.
The committee’s work references frameworks created by International Capital Market Association’s Green Bond Principles and The Climate Bonds Initiative. These disclosure guidelines center around the use of proceeds, project evaluation and selection procedures, management of proceeds, and reporting. In addition, the guidelines provide project-specific metrics investors may consider to be important across a range of initiatives including green buildings, water, wastewater, transportation, and power.
The Treasurer's office and municipal bond groups are distributing the guidelines. Since the first municipal green bond was issued in 2014, municipalities and conduit issuers in the U.S. have issued over $100 billion of green bonds. In California alone, over 150 green bonds have been issued, totaling over $30 billion since 2014.1 Over the last several years, Breckinridge has invested in corporate and municipal green bonds when consistent with the firm’s investment objectives.
The guidelines could grow with the expansion and maturation of the green bond market. The committee’s work reflects a belief that that municipal bond issuers might be more inclined to issue green bonds if they have a better understanding of the information that investors look for when considering investments.
 “California panel releases green bond disclosure guidelines,” by Keeley Webster, The Bond Buyer, May 16, 2023.
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