Moody’s Slashes Green Bond Sales Forecast After Poor Quarter


Moody’s Investors Service is cutting its outlook for green bond issuance in 2020 after sales plummeted in the first quarter as the pandemic rattled credit markets.

Issuance totaled $33.9 billion in the first three months of the year, a 49% decrease from the previous quarter, according to a Moody’s report. The credit grader now expects $175 billion to $225 billion of green bond volume in 2020, down from an original forecast of $300 billion.

If that forecast holds up, 2020 will be the first year in a decade where issuance declines in the fast-growing market for debt that’s used to finance projects with positive environmental or climate effects, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Even though overall bond issuance accelerated rapidly at the end of March, the drop in sustainable debt volume can be attributed to fallout from the pandemic, Moody’s analyst Matthew Kuchtyak said in an interview. Because green bonds are “use of proceeds” instruments which require the funds to be allocated to a specific project or set of projects, they’re less attractive to companies that are currently borrowing just to add cash to weather the economic slowdown.

“That’s where we’ve seen the divergence between the growth in overall issuance globally versus the decline in green bonds,” Kuchtyak said. “Once we get past this, however long that might take, we don’t really see a change in the drivers that we expec