04 May 2021

Green bonds: How investors made an impact in 2020 with our ETF  


If more evidence of the extraordinary pace of climate change was needed, 2020 provided it in abundance. Arctic sea ice coverage matched 2016 for the lowest amount on record. Global temperatures were the second hottest ever, pushing 2019 down to third place. Meanwhile, satellite data revealed that CO2 concentrations continued to rise despite the pandemic, reaching a global level not seen for up to 5 million years. 

Yet for all the alarming statistics on global warming, humanity still has a major opportunity to limit climate change before it’s too late. Scientific research has yielded +1.5°C as the point after which there would be a significant negative impact on the environment and climate patterns. That’s why this target was codified in the Paris Agreement in 2015. 

“Scientists agree that to get on track to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, emissions must drop rapidly to 25 gigatons by 2030,” says the UN Environment Programme. “Our challenge: based on today’s commitments, emissions are on track to reach 56 Gt CO2e by 2030.”

We’ve written several times in the past about green bonds – the impact-driven fixed income investments that have a major role to play in the climate transition. If you’d like a refresher, please see our previous blogs here and here. For now, it’s just worth remembering that green bonds were created to directly fund projects with positive environmental or climate benefits.

If commitments, policies and action can deliver a 7.6% emissions reduction every year between 2020 and 2030, we CAN limit global warming to 1.5°C. This figure is our global solution.

UN Environment Programme

Green bonds are still a small part of the bond market, but they are growing fast. As we will explore in this blog, the rationale for including green bonds in portfolios is stronger today than ever. Read on to learn more about the green bond market and how our flagship green bond ETF performed in 2020. And imagine what could happen if we shifted the trillions in debt markets to greener investments.

A $1 trillion market for truly green finance

In December 2020, the green bond market crossed an important psychological threshold: $1 trillion of cumulative issuance since 2007, when the market was created. Issuance in 2020 alone was a record $290bn, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI)2 , a not-for profit which aims to mobilise the bond market for climate change solutions. At the time of writing in 2021, cumulative issuance stands at $1.2 trillion and 2021 issuance at $124bn.3 

annual green bond


As you can see from the CBI green bond score card (opposite), green bond issuance actually grew by 9% in 2020, despite the turbulence caused by Covid-19. Even though many green bond issues went ‘on pause’ at the height of the crisis, that pause created a backlog of green bond projects, which flooded into the market in the best-ever Q3 for green bonds. 

Total sovereign issuers after Egypt, Germany, Hungary and Sweden issued debut green bonds in 2020
Proportion of new issuance from Europe last year – the #1 source
USA, Germany, France
The top 3 issuers of green bonds in 2020

Source: CBI Global State of the Market, 2020, https://www.climatebonds.net/resources/reports/sustainable-debt-global-state-market-2020

To learn more about the growth of the green bond market, and how green bonds can be used in a fixed income portfolio, read our latest Expert’s View.

How investors can make an impact with green bonds

The stats above suggest that green bonds are becoming more popular with investors. But how do they work? ​


The simplest way for us to illustrate the power of green bonds is to use our own flagship green bond ETF (Bloomberg ticker: CLIM) as an example. We’ve crunched the data (full report here), and this should give an idea of what investors can achieve with a green bond investment, and the vast impact we could have together if we successfully “shift the trillions”. 

It’s important to remember that most green bonds are based on the “use of proceeds” principle. This means that the funds raised (the proceeds) are earmarked to finance specific green projects (the use). UoP makes a green bond ETF a great choice to take direct climate action in a simple way, with the guarantee that your money goes to pro-environment projects.

In 2020, the top three sectors that received proceeds from the Lyxor Green Bond (DR) UCITS ETF were Energy (45%), Green Buildings (24%) and Clean Transport (19%).4   


Impact indicators for the Lyxor Green Bond (DR) UCITS ETF 

In 2020, even the relatively modest €550m invested in our green bond ETF achieved some amazing results in these sectors. As you can see below, 438k tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions were avoided – that’s like taking nearly 95,000 passenger cars off the road for a year.** Enough renewable energy was funded to power nearly 28,000 homes,** and water was treated that would fill 16 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

We are delighted that our investors made such a huge impact with our ETF in 2020. 


Investors also supported 7 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to eradicate poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved by 2030, and project-oriented green bonds are uniquely placed to directly invest in the different objectives of the SDGs.

Exposure to UN Sustainable Development Goals by portfolio weight


Watch ‘The impact of CLIM in 2020’ to see how our Green Bond ETF made a difference

Example project: E.ON case study

Here you can see a focus on two green bonds issued by E.ON and held by the ETF. Each issue avoided around 2,980,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. For a full selection of case studies and to understand our methodology, please read our full impact report here

Focus on EON

EON case study #2

Take direct climate action with the Lyxor Green Bond ETF 

We strongly believe that green bonds are a powerful tool for making a climate and/or environmental impact with your investments.

In a recent UK poll, 77% of respondents considered climate change an important risk. But only 15% were investing for a greener, fairer society themselves6.  If you are one of them, a green bond ETF might help realign your portfolio with your philosophy.

Our flagship Green Bond ETF…

pin 1



…supports direct climate action with more than €500m in assets.




…invests in over 400 green bonds approved by the Climate Bonds Initiative, ensuring each one adheres to the Green Bond Principles

pin 3



…is the first and largest global green bond ETF and first to receive the Greenfin label




…and complies with Article 9 of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). 

We also offer an ESG-screened version (Bloomberg ticker: XCO2) that applies an additional issuer-level sustainability screen, excluding those involved in fossil fuels or nuclear power. 

Our green bond ETFs at a glance 

We believe that green bonds are a crucial part of the climate transition and we’re fully behind the campaign to #shiftthetrillions in debt markets into green investments. You’ve seen what a positive impact can be achieved at a (relatively) small scale. Now imagine what more we could achieve if the vast potential of the bond market shifted to green investments! 

Please get in touch if you’d like to learn more, or visit our ESG Hub to explore Lyxor’s ESG and climate range. In the meantime, here is the full list of Lyxor green bond ETFs: 

4Source: Lyxor Asset Management, March 2021 
5Analysis by Lyxor Asset Management, March 2021. **These indicators concern 47% of the portfolio weight. Source of the conversion tool: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

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