At an international online conference organised jointly by the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), presentations and discussions focused on the assessment and quantification of the adverse economic effects of climate change, the funding of renewable energy production and energy efficiency investments to achieve a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by MNB, the conference was opened with János Áder’s welcoming remarks, the President of Hungary and the Chief Patron of the event, in a video message. Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the issue of climate change should not be forgotten, and market agents must be encouraged to strengthen green finances by implementing additional measures. "To this end, MNB plans to introduce a new capital requirement discount supporting green corporate lending, which initially would cover renewable energy investments and green bonds purchases," MNB Deputy Governor Csaba Kandrács announced at the conference.
The Deputy Governor added thatʻsetting an example to the financial sector, the MNB itself will become completely carbon neutral. It will offset its emissions in 2020 by financing ecological investments next year. In the meantime, it plans to reduce its emissions significantly primarily by swapping its energy consumption for green energy. ‘The MNB also encourages financial organisations to make similar offset investments, useful for the domestic natural environment’, Csaba Kandrács stressed.
The solution used by the MNB to offset the emissions at the conference on green finance was presented by Katalin Sipos, Director of WWF Hungary.
WWF President Pavan Sukhdev also delivered a speech at the conference. He argued that sadly, COVID-19 also explains why the traditional economic model must be revised urgently, because it does not take into account natural, social and human capital to the extent necessary.
Several speakers dwelled upon financial risks of environmental nature at the event. In their speeches, Ma Jun, Special Advisor to the Governor of the People’s Bank of China, and Jo Paisley, Co-President of GARP Institute, underlined that financial institutions started assessing the adverse effects arising from climate change and began to implement them into their risk management procedures, but there was much to be done urgently. On behalf of the EBRD, Managing Director Mattia Romani described the solutions his institution implemented to help banks and corporations in Central and Eastern Europe in their efforts to adopt green operations.
In the second half of the conference, the focus was shifted to greening the recovery from COVID-19. Gurbuz Gonul, Director for Country Engagement and Partnership of the International Renewable Energy Agency, pointed out that the rise of of renewable energy brings advantages in terms of energetics and the climate, and they also result in higher employment, improved life quality and other social benefits. The pandemic would create an opportunity to utilise all these. In his speech, Sean Kindey, co-founder and CEO of Climate Bonds Initiative, the most significant institution working with green bonds, described the global trends in the green bond market. He noted that the growth of these new types of instruments was not restricted by COVID-19.
The closing panel discussion, featuring Raiffeisen Capital Management, representing investors, Gen-I, a Slovenian renewable energy corporation on behalf of issuers and Deloitte adding the external review perspective to the picture, clarified the potential opportunities offered by green bonds for Central Europe, pointing out the fact that green bonds may provide additional funds the for necessary investment projects in the region.
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