• Both Norway and Sweden are pioneers on green bonds, but the market has grown faster in Sweden.
  • Business culture and financial institutions are more focused on sustainability in Sweden.
  • Sweden has a larger and more diversified corporate sector.
  • Leadership on sustainability and issuer-investor collaboration will facilitate green bonds.
  • Active communication and high visibility of green bonds activities will stimulate the market.

Transition to a low-carbon economy to achieve the Paris Agreement goal requires substantial investments. The market for green bonds shows good potential to help mobilize financial sources towards sustainable investments. Our study is one of the first comparative analyses specifically designed to explain differences in green bond uptake between two similar financial markets.

The findings of this analysis can help to identify factors that are transferable to other countries and that therefore can be important for facilitating the growth of green bonds in different markets.

Data shows that there has been a faster growth in issuances in Sweden than Norway, and especially for the corporate sector and municipalities. When interviewing experienced green bond market participants in Norway and Sweden, the authors found that likely explanations for this are that Sweden has a business culture and financial institutions more focused on sustainability, as well as a larger and more diversified corporate sector. In Norway, uptake of green bonds may have been hampered by competition with high-yield investments in oil and gas and shipping, a “green” energy sector that considers green bonds to be superfluous, and many municipalities that are too small for green bond issuance.

The experience from Sweden indicates that other countries wanting to facilitate uptake of green bonds should emphasize leadership on sustainability, collaboration between green bond issuers and investors, and active communication, high visibility, and thorough disclosure of sustainable finance activities.