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Spanish oil giant Repsol completed the issue of $559 million in five-year green bonds on Tuesday, making it the first fossil fuel company of its size to benefit from environmentally friendly financing.
“The energy industry is a big source of emissions globally," Repsol spokesperson Kristian Rix told Bloomberg. “If we can make investments in efficiency and do better business, then we’re actually doing this transition in a way that is not only sustainable environmentally, but is also sustainable economically.”
The capital is earmarked to fund the company’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions within its operations—mitigating methane emission and flaring—though some industry experts are concerned the bond issue does not deserve a “green” label.
“This is fundamentally dubious,” said Sean Kidney of the London-based Climate Bonds Initiative, which drafts green-bond standards. “At the moment we’re unlikely to include this in our listings of green bonds and our data for green bond indexes.”
Repsol says the money earned from the issue will not be used for the exploration or extraction of oil or natural gas. To ensure compliance to this goal, the company plans to hire external auditors who will review corporate finances from time to time.
Since its inception less than ten years ago, green bonds have funded $95 billion worth of projects aimed at benefitting the environment. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that the dollar figure will reach $123 billion by the end of 2017.
But no single institution decides what counts as “green” and what does not, meaning that investors and their analysts are left to determine whether a specially labelled bond issue will positively impact the environment.
Estimates from the International Energy Agency show $44 trillion in funding will be needed to eliminate carbon from the global economy by the year 2040.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…