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Green Banking Initiative- Exploring the viability of Green Banks in India for Sustainable Financing

Green Banking Initiative
Green Banking

If you are interested in applying to GGI's Impact Fellowship program, you can access our application link here.


1. Introduction

Exploring the global landscape of green banks, the impact of green banking in India, and proposing solutions to overcome challenges.

In 2023, temperatures have reached record highs, and carbon emissions continue to rise at a rate of 6% per year. India reported its warmest February since proper record-keeping began 1901, recording the highest average maximum temperature (29.5 degrees C) across the country. Considering this trend, the solution to curbing our self-destructive habits that contribute to global warming must be swift and decisive.

Within the framework of this project, the discourse shall center upon sustainable financing and green banking as viable measures that institutions can undertake to effectively mitigate the impact of climate change.

Let us gain a comprehensive understanding of the aforementioned terms in their respective contexts:

1.1 Green Banking – It’s an innovative banking approach that advocates for environmentally sustainable practices and investments.

Its core principles revolve around –

  • Integrating environmental considerations into banking operations.

  • Assessment of environmental risks associated with lending and investment activities.

  • Promotion of green investments and financing.

  • Reduction of the environmental impact of banking operations.

The ultimate objective of Green Banking is to foster sustainable development, safeguard the environment, and alleviate the adverse effects of banking activities on the environment.

1.2 Sustainable Financing – It denotes the prudent allocation of financial resources in a manner that reinforces sustainable development and safeguards the longevity of financial institutions.

  • It entails the assimilation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into the decision-making process concerning investments and lending activities, to evaluate the associated risks and opportunities.

  • The primary objective of sustainable financing is to steer financial resources towards ventures and undertakings that engender constructive social and environmental outcomes, while simultaneously generating financial returns.

  • This paradigm is of paramount significance in tackling contemporary global challenges, such as climate change, poverty, and inequality, and is progressively being embraced by financial institutions, investors, and regulators across the globe.

2. Global Landscape of Green Banks : Examples of Success and Diversity in Scope and Scale

The concept of green banks has gained widespread recognition around the world, with more than 16 such banks operating at various levels, from national to municipal. Each of these institutions has been established using different financial instruments and for different objectives. Notable examples are -

  • in the United States include the Connecticut Green Bank, the New York Green Bank,

  • in Europe include the European Investment Fund program,

  • in United Kingdom – Green Investment Group,

  • in China – Green Development fund

  • in South Africa – Development Bank of Southern Africa.

  • in Japan – Green fund for growth.

While there are many more examples, each of them represents various stages of green bank development, from established to emergent, and operating at different levels of scope, including state, city, and county.

Delving into the specifics of the aforementioned examples -

  • In Connecticut, the establishment of the Connecticut Green Bank (CTGB) was authorized by the Public Act 11-80 of the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011. The Connecticut Green Bank (CTGB), heralded as the first green bank in the United States, has successfully secured over $1.6 billion in funding towards clean energy initiatives throughout the state, as of December 2019[1].

  • In Europe, The European Investment Bank (EIB) has been a proactive advocate of sustainable investments and initiatives for more than a decade as the lending arm of the European Union. Its Climate Awareness Bond (CAB) program, launched in 2007, is geared towards financing projects that mitigate climate change. To date, the program has invested over €28billion in climate-related initiatives[2].

  • The United Kingdom has established the Green Investment Group (GIG), originally founded as the Green Investment Bank by the UK government in 2012. The GIG has continued to operate with a primary focus on financing renewable energy projects even after being acquired by Macquarie Group in 2017. Globally, the GIG has invested over £20 billion in renewable energy initiatives, including solar, wind, and hydro-electric projects[3].

  • In 2013, the New York Green Bank (NYGB)was established as a division of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority(NYSERDA). With an investment of approximately $960 million in energy efficiency, solar, sustainable transportation, and fuel cell projects since its inception, NYGB has facilitated the mobilization of public and private funds, resulting in a total project value of $2.0 - 2.4 billion[4].

  • In 2016, the Green Development Fund (GDF) was established in China, marking yet another successful example of Green Banking. The state-owned GDF supports the growth of green industries and technologies and has invested more than ¥70 billion in clean energy projects, green transportation, and energy efficiency measures[5].

  • The Development Bank of Southern Africa is a public-private partnership that was established in 2013 with the primary objective of promoting the development of green technologies and infrastructure in Japan. The GFG has invested over JPY 65 billion (approximately USD 610 million) in a range of green projects, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transport. In addition, the fund has played a crucial role in supporting the growth of Japan's green bond market approximately USD 1.7 billion) in various green projects, including solar and wind energy, sustainable transport, and waste management[6].

  • The Japanese Green Fund for Growth (GFG) is a public-private partnership that was established in 2013 with the primary objective of promoting the development of green technologies and infrastructure in Japan. The GFG has invested over JPY 65 billion (approximately USD 610 million) in a range of green projects, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transport. In addition, the fund has played a crucial role in supporting the growth of Japan's green bond market[7].

3. Green Banking in India: Key Players and Their Impact

India boasts of two finance organizations dedicated to advancing clean energy financing - Tata Cleantech Capital Limited (TCCL) and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA). The government-owned IREDA provides critical funding for clean energy projects and is actively pursuing plans to launch India's inaugural Green Window. The ambitious initiative aims to expand access to underrepresented markets and attract over Rs 210 billion ($3 billion) in renewable energy investments, with a focus on incorporating the principles of the Green Banking model.

TCCL is a leading private sector Green Bank that champions the Green Banking concept globally. It has collaborated with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to advance rooftop solar financing and is the first private entity in India to do so. TCCL's innovative financing has enabled it to finance over 250 projects in the past six years, reducing carbon emissions by almost 16 MT annually. This achievement is due in part to the support of esteemed foreign financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO), and the CDC in the UK.

4. Overview of regulatory framework for sustainable banking in India

Banks have a social responsibility to promote sustainable practices, including environmental contributions. India has been a proponent of green financing since 2007, when the Reserve Bank of India introduced a regulation emphasizing the significance of global warming and climate change in sustainable development.

The National Action Plan on Climate Change was established in 2008 to reduce the impact of climate change, with Green Banks adhering to strict environmental standards and financing practices to support sustainable development initiatives. Currently, the creation of a Green Bank is unregulated, but banks can earn the "Green" label by redirecting resources away from fossil fuels and committing to clean energy, sustainable businesses, and carbon offsets. Effective regulation requires disclosing the carbon emissions of firms financed and loan portfolios held.

5. Challenges Faced by Green Banks in Driving a Reformative Shift

In the pursuit of a reformative shift towards a sustainable and green economy, green banks face various challenges, including:

  • Limited funding: Green banks may have insufficient resources to finance larger-scale sustainable projects, particularly in developing countries.

  • Political and regulatory uncertainty: Changes in government policies or regulations can create uncertainty and hinder the ability of green banks to operate effectively and plan for the long term.

  • Lack of awareness and understanding: Many people and organizations are unaware of the benefits of sustainable finance, which can make it challenging for green banks to gain traction and secure funding for sustainable projects.

  • Limited market demand: While interest in sustainable finance is growing, there is still limited market demand for green products and services, making it difficult for green banks to find viable investment opportunities.

  • Risk management: Sustainable projects often involve a higher level of risk compared to traditional investments, and green banks must carefully manage and evaluate these risks.

  • Scalability: Green banks may face challenges in expanding their operations and financing larger projects, particularly for smaller banks with limited resources.

In summary, addressing these challenges is crucial for green banks to promote sustainable finance and drive a reformative shift towards a more sustainable and green economy.

6. Overcoming Hurdles: The Path to a Sustainable Future through Green Banking

The challenges faced by green banks in promoting sustainable finance can be addressed by implementing several proposals:

  • Enhance public awareness: Green banks can create marketing campaigns and educational events to raise awareness of their mission and goals.

  • Increase access to capital: Green banks can collaborate with other financial institutions or investors to raise more capital for sustainable projects. Governments can also provide financial incentives to encourage private investment in these projects.

  • Develop safeguarding policies: Governments can implement policies that promote sustainable finance, such as regulations that require financial institutions to report on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. Green banks can work with regulators to create standards for sustainable investments and ensure compliance.

  • Focus on innovation: Green banks can invest in research and development of new technologies that promote sustainability and collaborate with universities and research institutions to keep up with the latest advancements.

  • Build a tailored track record: Green banks can partner with established financial institutions on sustainable projects and invest in projects with a proven track record of success, such as wind or solar farms.

By implementing these proposals, green banks can overcome the challenges they face in promoting sustainable finance and green banking.

7. Establishing a Green Bank in India: Capitalizing on Opportunities for Sustainable Growth

Establishing a Green Bank in India by 2023 can have a significant global impact, given its population of one-fifth of the world. India's plans to increase renewable energy capacity and electric vehicle adoption present huge market opportunities, but require an estimated investment of $1.5 trillion by 2030, a considerable sum in light of India's GDP of $3 trillion. To catalyze private investment in low-carbon markets, the Indian government should increase its allocation of capital towards establishing regional green banks and windows. These entities will leverage low-cost public funds, technical assistance, and government guarantees to structure risk mitigation products, facilitating the efficient use of public capital and enabling financing of challenging renewable energy projects. This opportunity is similar in magnitude and significance to the environmental benefits of online banking, which reduces carbon emissions and fossil fuel use.

The benefits of online bill payment and banking are immense and far-reaching. The following figures highlight some of the significant impacts of widespread adoption:

  • Approximately 31% of Indian households (8.1 crore) now bank online, a figure expected to rise to 49% (13 crore households) over the next five years.

  • One crore household currently pay bills at individual biller sites, with this number expected to increase to 5 crores over the next five years. As financial providers offer consumers the features they desire, bill viewing and payment at bank sites will grow even more rapidly.

  • If all Indian households viewed and paid bills online, the yearly benefits would be substantial: a saving of60 lakh tons of wood, equivalent to 5 crore trees.

8. Conclusion

The data shows that Green Banks are crucial in addressing global warming and climate change. India can set an example for other nations by pioneering this initiative, alleviating the human crises that arise from these perils. By adopting the recommendations outlined in this project, entrepreneurs can combat climate change and generate business opportunities, contributing to our economy and securing a promising future.

Meet The Thought Leaders

Laboni Singh is a mentor at GGI and is currently working at The Bridgespan Group as an Associate Consultant. She takes keen interest in socioeconomic development issues, public policy, and equity across different vectors of gender, caste, class, and ability, which in turn fuelled her transition from working at a global bank to the social sector. She is an Urban Fellow from the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore and has a bachelor's degree in Economics from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi.

Meet The Authors (GGI Fellows)

Ashish Goyal holds an MBA degree from NMIMS University and has experience as a financial market trader with an IB. He has overseen accounts exceeding two million dollars for four years and has also managed his family's business. He possesses a keen interest in finance and business economics.

If you are interested in applying to GGI's Impact Fellowship program, you can access our application link here.



[2] European Investment Bank (EIB) – CAB SAB Investor Presentation, 2022 -

[5] The Green Development Fund (GDF) – China -

[7] Japanese Green Fund for Growth -

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