Pia Rebelo

‘Sustainable finance’ and ‘green finance’ are terms used, often interchangeably, to cover a plethora of financial products aimed at supporting green and sustainable projects and activities. The dominant focus of green finance over the last two decades has been the mobilisation of funds for clean energy and low-emission land transportation, yet the Covid-19 pandemic is steering the focus away from environmental issues to the social and economic pillars of the sustainable development triage. Momentum for ‘sustainable finance’, covering a much wider range of environmental and social governance (ESG) factors, has been propelled in 2020 in what has been described a ‘watershed’ year for ESG investing. This is largely due to the rise of ‘woke’ millennial investors coupled with steady returns on ESG investments which are holding up strongly during the pandemic. The European Union has also been paying attention to the growing surge in ESG investments and has aligned climate change objectives with its post-pandemic recovery plan. The European Union is set to sell 225 billion euros of green bonds as part of its pandemic recovery fund, whilst its 100 billion euros SURE unemployment scheme is set to be fully funded by social bonds. However, sustainable finance is not without its own set of criticisms. From a legal perspective, sustainable or green finance presents both regulatory issues and resultant challenges for private law implementation and enforcement.

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