Development of the Nordic Green Bond market in 2020
The Nordic Green Bond market
Strong issuance in a tumultuous year
The corporate segment grew substantially across the Nordics in 2020 (+16.1%), propelled by 23 new issuers and a particularly strong growth in non-real estate corporate activity (+25.3%). Volumes issued by financial issuers were down slightly (-11.1%), with just four new issuers and in the SSA-segment, which is arguably the most mature segment, the Swedish sovereign green bond was the sole newcomer, but made a strong contribution to the overall growth of the segment (+15.3%).
Outlook for 2021 - New themes and instruments
Sustainability Linked structures are already a mainstay of the Nordic syndicated loan market and their sibling in the bond market, the Sustainability Linked Bond, is set to grow considerably throughout 2021. Unlike Green, Social and Sustainability bonds, SLL's and SLB's don't require defined use of proceeds but instead targets an improvement on material ESG areas of the borrowing entity. These structures enables companies that lack definable green, social or sustainable assets to issue thematic debt and can also be utilized by issuers looking to increase their volume of thematic financing by issuing both use of proceeds debt and sustainability linked debt or as a stand-alone thematic debt product.
Green use of proceeds structures remain the largest thematic debt product and will continue to do so throughout 2021. Outside of the Nordics both Sustainable and Social bonds saw very strong growth in 2020 and 2021 will surely be dominated by the continued divergence of thematic structures that began in earnest in 2020.
Another major theme will be the EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan and it’s core components: the EU Taxonomy, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation and the Non-financial Reporting Directive. The outcome of the public consultation on the Delegated Act (The EU Taxonomy) late last year resulted in nearly 48.000 responses. After the Member State discussions on 25-26th of January the publication of an updated Act have been pushed back to late March, but also indicated adoption of the Act by late April. The EU Taxonomy and the legislative proposals under the Sustainable Finance Action Plan will create a new standard for green investments and green financing within the European Union going forward.
Green bond development in the Nordic countries
Sweden remains the largest green bond market in the Nordics and had a healthy growth of 9.2%, increasing to EUR 12.1bn. SSA received a significant volume contribution by Sweden's sovereign Green Bond in September, but real estate green bonds remain the most active segment by a longshot, with 39 issuers and a third of total issuance. The corporate segment grew steadily after the huge spike in 2019 (+560%) and we expect the largest growth in 2021 to come from this segment. Financials saw slight growth in 2020 and depending on the treatment of existing buildings in the EU Taxonomy, 2021 might prove to be the year of the green covered bond in this segment.
The Norwegian market for green bonds and sustainable debt grew substantially in 2020 (+34.6%) to EUR 6.1bn. The growth was largely driven by the corporate segment, where 5 new issuers entered the green bond market for the first time in 2020. The Financial sector grew by another 9% and remain the largest sector driven largely by the issuance of large volumes by some of the covered bond issuers. We expect supply to continue growing steadily and several new issuers to enter the market in 2021.
Green bonds and sustainable debt play an important and growing role among Finnish issuers and borrowers. Finland is the third largest Nordic market and grew by 6.3% in 2020 to EUR 2.9bn. Green bond issuance has over the past years been driven by SSA and Financials, but we also saw new issuers entering the market in 2020 – coming from both Real Estate and Corporate segments. We expect supply to continue growing steadily and several new issuers to enter the market in 2021.
The Danish market contracted significantly in 2020 to EUR 1.6bn (-47.3%), but reviewing the figures also require a bit of perspective. In 2018 the Danish market only saw €750m of issuance, which grew to EUR 3.1bn in 2019, after large issuance from Orsted, Kommunekredit and a few financial issuers. The activity in 2020 was still good and the same issuers remained active, but the volume did indeed come down, but is still much larger than in 2018. We expect the Danish market to grow in 2021, with new issuers entering the market.