Global Green Finance Index 5: Europe Leads The Way For Green Finance with Amsterdam on top

The fifth edition of the Global Green Finance Index (GGFI 5) was published on 24 March 2020. GGFI 5 provides evaluations of the depth and quality of the green finance offerings of 67 major financial centres around the world. The GGFI serves as a valuable reference into the development of green finance for policy and investment decision-makers. There is growing confidence in the development of green finance across all regions. Ratings of green finance rose in almost all centres for both depth and quality. All centres received a higher rating for depth than in GGFI 4; and all but five centres received a higher rating in quality. Amsterdam ranks on top.

Europe Leads The World In Green Finance

Western Europe continues to lead the world’s centres in green finance depth and quality, taking nine of the top ten places in depth and the top 12 places in quality. This reflects the continuing work being undertaken by European financial institutions, central banks, regulators, and the European Union to embed sustainability in their regulatory work.

Specialised Centres Outperforming The Established Order

• Amsterdam retained its leading position in the depth index, with Luxembourg still in second place.

• London retained its position as first in the quality index, albeit with a smaller margin than before, with Amsterdam only 6 rating points behind. The leading centres in Western Europe are catching up with London’s ratings for quality and on current trends, London will drop to third in the quality rankings by the time we publish GGFI 6 in six months’ time.

• Larger, well-established generalist financial centres are not rated highly as green financial centres. For example, Singapore, which consistently ranks in the top five centres in the Global Financial Centres Index, and which has recently launched a green investments programme and taken action on stimulating green investment and lending, ranks 27th for depth and 21st for quality in GGFI 5.

The top 20 ranked centres for depth and quality in GGFI 5 are shown in the table below:

Green Finance In China: Progress And Prospects

• The last few years have seen explosive growth in the uptake of green finance in China. Great strides have been made in the wholesale adoption of green bonds and green loans as well as innovation in green fintech and the adoption of mandatory environmental reporting.

• However, in common with other systems around the world, the Chinese financial system continues to provide capital for environmentally damaging activities such as coal mining and high-carbon energy generation. This suggests that despite recent impressive progress, there is still a long way to go to green the financial system as a whole.

• China has made substantial progress in greening its financial system driven by a strong political commitment and implemented via a top-down governance model. China has not only begun to make serious inroads into existing green finance markets, such as green bonds but is also a pioneer in new areas in green finance governance and monetary policy.

• Looking forward, China needs to speed up its gains in this field in order to finance an increasingly ambitious climate and environmental agenda. Only by driving cultural change, which moves green finance from niche to mainstream within the financial system can these goals be achieved. What remains to be seen is the pace at which this transition can be made, in a financial system that faces many other challenges.

Leading Centres

• On depth, the leading nine centres all stayed in the top group, with some minor adjustments in placing. Vienna and Geneva moved into the top ten, on equal ratings. Vancouver dropped from 10th to 17th place.

• On quality, Vienna moved into the top ten and Geneva regained its lead over Brussels to take it into 9th place. Munich has fallen to 11th position. London’s lead in the quality index has reduced from 52 points in GGFI 1 to 6 in GGFI 5, with Amsterdam and Zürich both able to overtake its rating in the next six months.

• Narrow margins continue to separate centres at top of the tables. Among the top ten centres the spread of ratings is 44 out of 1,000 for depth (47 in GGFI 4) and also 44 for quality (53 in GGFI 4).

Western Europe

• Western Europe continues to improve its ratings across depth and quality, with all centres receiving improved ratings for both depth and quality.

• Vienna rose 16 places for depth and nine places for quality to enter the top ten on both measures.

• Hamburg fell back slightly on both measures, while Geneva gained ground.

• Hamburg, Munich, Edinburgh, and Lichtenstein fell in the rankings for both depth and quality.

• Oslo entered the index for the first time, ranking 12th for depth and 13th for quality.

North America

• Montréal again took first place in the region for depth, retaining at ninth position overall, but fell six places to 19th in the quality measure. San Francisco was again the leading centre for quality in North America, although it dropped two places overall to 13th. It increased its ranking by one place to 16th in the depth index.

• Vancouver, Boston, and Calgary fell in the rankings for both depth and quality, while Los Angeles improved its position on both measures.

• Canadian centres continue to outperform the USA both in depth and quality.


• Asia/Pacific centres overall fell back in the rankings for both depth and quality, even though ratings improved overall, meaning that other centres improved their performance at a faster rate.

• Sydney has taken the lead in the region in both depth and quality, with Beijing second for depth and Singapore second for quality.

• Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Melbourne fell more than five ranking places since GGFI 4 for depth. For quality, Guangzhou improved its ranking place 13 places, and Kuala Lumpur was up six places, while Melbourne dropped 13 places.

Middle East & Africa

• Casablanca maintained its position as the leading centre in the region, although its overall ranking dropped as Western European centres continued to move forwards. Tel Aviv is in second place in the region on both measures.

• Centres in the region generally lost ground in the quality index.

• Doha entered the GGFI for the first time.

Latin America & The Caribbean

• São Paulo retained its leading position in the region, although its rank dropped slightly in both depth and quality as new centres entered the index. Cayman Islands took second place in the region for depth and quality.

• Rio de Janeiro and Bermuda fell in the rankings for both depth and quality.

Eastern Europe & Central Asia

• Prague continued to lead the region, and rose eight places to 32nd for depth, while falling ten places to 32nd for quality.

• Warsaw and Moscow fell in both the depth and quality rankings.

Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, Chief Executive of the Green Finance Institute, said: “Unlike previous economic trends or cycles, the inviolable nature of the physics of climate change means that whilst there remains some uncertainty about how exactly we embed science into our business, finance, regulatory and policy decision making, decarbonising our global economy is an imperative and is ultimately inevitable. Successfully reallocating capital towards the opportunities presented by this economic transformation requires an understanding of the technologies and the societal behaviours that are rapidly replacing existing systems.

Wang Yao, Director General of the International Institute of Green Finance, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing, said: “From a Chinese perspective, we are pleased to see strong representation in the Global Green Finance Index from the key Chinese financial centers of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. While green finance is a rather new concept in the Chinese context, through strong political commitment and a top-down governance model, China made substantial progress in greening its financial system and creating global top tier green financial centers.

Professor Michael Mainelli, Executive Chairman of Z/Yen, said: “Green finance, to date, has depended on public policy. Public policy, to date, has largely been driven by public awareness. This heavy dependence on public policy distinguishes green finance from ‘normal’ finance. The strength of centres in Western Europe in green finance reflects both the action taken by the European Union, governments, and regulatory authorities, as well as public demand for action on sustainability.”

We invite all those with an interest in green finance to take part in GGFI 6 by rating the financial centres you know here –

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