Bumper Year for Sustainability

We’re halfway through 2021, and it’s already proving to be a bumper year for sustainability.

Almost every major activity in sustainability is above last year’s trend lines: Corporations are making more pledges to procure clean energy. Financial markets are issuing more sustainable debt. And investors are putting more money into environmental, social, and governance-themed exchange-traded funds.


In a few categories, however, sustainability commitments aren’t just ahead of last year’s trend, they’re also ahead of the full 12 months of 2020.


Corporate Science-Based Targets commitments, i.e. those made in conjunction with the initiative of the same name to line up with Paris Agreement targets, have already set an annual record. More than 150 commitments in June alone means that 590 companies have now aligned their emissions trajectory with the global agreement.


The global green bond market is another outperformer. Financial institutions, corporations, and governments have issued more than $100 billion of green bonds pear year since 2017 and more than $200 billion in 2019, with 2020’s total clocking in at $243 billion. So far this year, the total is $248 billion. At this pace, we could see a half a trillion dollars in green bond issuance in 2020.


Sustainability bonds, too, are having a breakout year, passing 2020’s total issuance in May and more than $90 billion so far in 2021. The most popular currency for sustainability bonds? The greenback, a.k.a. the U.S. dollar.