Business

Kyoto considers entering Japan's nascent local green bond market

by Ayai Tomisawa and Rie Morita

Bloomberg

The city of Kyoto is exploring a possible sale of debt to finance environmental, social and governance projects, in what may be the country’s only such municipal bond after Tokyo, the mayor has said.

The historic former capital, which has more than 1,600 temples, is considering a yen issuance to help meet funding toward the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs), Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa, 68, said in an interview after meeting with potential investors and financial institutions Monday in Tokyo.

Dressed in his trademark locally made kimono, Kadokawa said he’s talking to banks about projects that could meet growing demand for such bonds.

“It’s important to consider ways of exploring SDG projects from an investment standpoint, and do research in this area,” said Kadokawa, whose kimono had the U.N.’s multicolored SDG logo embroidered onto the back. “We would also like to see how much of a cost we would have to bear in order to issue such bonds.”

The proceeds from any issuance of this type could be used to invest in clean energy facilities, build child care centers and maintain parks, he said.

While sales of SDG bonds are surging, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is the only municipality to have sold green debt so far, issuing a total of about $450 million (about ¥49.1 billion) in three currencies from 2017 through this year. The cost of being certified is creating a bottleneck for other potential borrowers, according to analysts.

Kyoto is considering issuing such bonds to both institutional and retail investors, said Yuki Shibano of the city’s financial bureau.

“For retail investors, we want to come up with a product which would be simple and easy to understand,” such as for welfare, child care and disaster prevention purposes, Shibano said by telephone, adding that the purpose would be to help boost the business of Kyoto banks and raise awareness about the SDGs to Kyoto citizens.