PARIS — Even as President Trump appears clearly convinced that eight years of Obama environmental policy were bad for business, other governments are betting on the massive investments that energy transition requires. Le Figaro reports that France has become the world's second country to issue green bonds, raising a record 7 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in yesterday's sale, eight times more than Poland's groundbreaking issuance in December. Other countries are expected to follow suit, starting with Nigeria in March.
France is planning to use the funds raised with these 22-year bonds on infrastructure to produce more renewable energy, cut pollution, protect biodiversity and reduce the country's impact on climate change while adapting to its anticipated consequences. It's an important step for the host of the Paris 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, as renewable energies accounted for less than 20% of France's production in 2014, with nuclear energy continuing to account for 77%.
The French government's projects represent a total 13-billion-euro investment, but the fact that the total demand at yesterday's issue exceeded 23 billion euros suggests that Paris will have plenty of room for maneuver if it plays its cards right.
Could green bonds be the way to go to finance a greener future? The French experiment seems to indicate as much. A few days ago, Bloomberg columnist Marcus Ashworth asked the question, "Can the Bond Market Save the Planet?" Similarly, an analysis published by power-technology.com recently explained why green bonds could "help finance a clean energy revolution in China," contradicting Naomi Klein's view that unregulated capitalism was incompatible with environmental interests.
Donald Trump's pledges to invest in infrastructure and work towards an energy independent America each sound good on their own. But why not combine them, and use these once-in-a-generation investments to make America first on renewable energies? USA-brand bonds to save the planet? It could be a green-green win-win for the new dealmaker-in-chief.
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