Can Green Bonds Flourish in a Complex-Finance Brownfield?

A Croatan Institute Working Paper

William J. Harrington

July 2018

This working paper argues that some financial products labelled “green” or “ESG” embed features that undermine financial sustainability and are thus at odds with the sustainability principles implied in green and ESG product ratings. This paper provides a critical correction to the green and ESG sector that has been sorely needed.

The financial sustainability scores that this working paper proposes aim to measure the impact of a financial product on what has not been measured to date, namely the marginal: improvement or distortion of price signals; reduction or buttressing of chronic economic imbalances; boosting or draining of public resources; and reduction or increase in the odds of self-induced catastrophe.

The author welcomes all feedback and will incorporate it in updated versions of the working paper.