Si Ling Wong, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)
The theme of this Blog is “Green Finance”. So what is Green Finance actually? One could google and get a very detailed definition from the website. My simple interpretation is “Responsible Investment”.
When we talk about finance or investment, the first thing that comes into mind would be money making – this is very true and fair. Everyone works to earn and support living and if an investment is not going to bring any benefit, who will be doing it?
That’s why we may need more incentive/ pressure from the government. Hong Kong has been a bit behind our peers in this area but the government is trying to catch-up. Starting from 2017, listed companies are required to follow the comply-or-explain obligations from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in making their Environment, Social and Governance (“ESG”) reporting. The HKSAR Government announced the launch of the Green Bond Grant Scheme in June 2018 to subsidize eligible green bond issuers in obtaining certification under the Green Finance Certification Scheme established by the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency. The Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) issued a circular to provide guidance to management companies of SFC-authorized green or ESG funds on enhanced disclosures last month. A roadshow for the HKSAR Government’s first green bond under its HK$100 billion green bond program was also kicked-off last Tuesday.
More information on the latest HKSAR government’s green initiatives could be read here: https://www.hkma.gov.hk/eng/key-information/press-releases/2019/20190507-4.shtml
While the government is picking up the pace, general public could also contribute via “Responsible Investment” – buying shares/ bonds issued by companies that pay effort in managing ESG, allocating assets into funds that incorporate ESG in their investment decision-making process, etc. No big money is needed – every penny counts.
One last reminder: watch out for “Greenwashing”. Some corporates might use “green” deceptively just to promote their products/ brands. It will always be good to take a closer look at these “green” labels to avoid being fooled and dumping money into something actually evil and not sustainable.