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The World’s $5 Trillion Pile of ESG Debt Is Set to Keep Rising

(Bloomberg) —

The world’s pile of socially conscious debt ballooned to a record $5.1 trillion in the first quarter — a sum the Institute of International Finance expects will keep on rising. 

Governments and companies are ramping up borrowing tied to environmental, social and governance goals, helping the universe of ESG debt expand from $3.8 trillion a year earlier, according to data from the IIF. It’s a trend the financial industry group expects to continue.

“We expect ESG bond issuance to remain strong,” economist Khadija Mahmood and Emre Tiftik, director of sustainability research, wrote in a Wednesday report. “Given the limited fiscal capacity of governments to direct additional resources toward climate change (due to higher debt burdens), additional funding on that scale can only be channeled by catalyzing private capital.”

Mature economies — led by the US and European Union — are home to about $3.6 trillion, or 70%, of the world’s ESG debt, according to the IIF. 

Emerging markets, meanwhile, have lagged in terms of issuance. Frontier and emerging-economy nations sold just $45 billion in the first quarter, nearly half of what they issued in the previous quarter, the data show. 

In all, developing nations account for just $740 billion of the total ESG debt universe, with China responsible for about 40% of that. 


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