* 2015 issuance reached record $42.4 bln
* Paris agreement has sparked more interest in green bonds
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The global agreement reached at the climate summit in Paris could prompt the amount of bonds this year issued to finance low-carbon projects to exceed $50 billion, Moody’s Investor Service said on Tuesday.
This would follow a record $42.4 billion issuance in 2015.
The proceeds from so-called green bonds help finance projects such as renewable energy, the energy efficiency sector, green transport and wastewater treatment.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the issuance of green bonds reached $15.2 billion, the strongest quarterly volume of the year, boosted by activity by financial institutions ahead of talks in Paris in December to secure a global climate agreement.
This helped raise last year’s total issuance to its highest ever level since the market began in 2007, a report by Moody’s Investor Service said.
The global climate summit in Paris late last year agreed a landmark deal, committing both rich and poor nations to rein in rising emissions blamed for global warming.
Following the agreement, Moody’s expects green bonds to attract more attention because meeting emissions-cut targets will need trillions of dollars of capital from the public and private sectors.
“We expect the momentum from the UN Conference on Climate Change, as well as the signing of the Paris Agreement scheduled this April, to likely motivate additional and repeat issuance of green bonds,” Henry Shilling, a Moody’s senior vice president said in a statement.
“In this favourable environment, even after more recent bond market headwinds and assuming a resumption of the growth rates seen in 2012-14, issuance could exceed $50 billion by a significant margin,” he added.
The green bond market is still a tiny part of the overall bond market. Although green bonds are no different from other bonds, they must finance environmentally sound projects, but there are differing views across the world on what that means.
Commonly agreed standards on what constitutes a green bond and transparency over how proceeds are used are needed to make the market become more mainstream.
London’s financial market launched a push last month to encourage pension and insurance funds to invest in green bonds, with a focus on creating a framework for the sector.
Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.