Standard Ethics has launched a new category of sustainable rating dedicated to conventional bonds, offering an ESG assessment of non-ESG bonds.
The SE General-Purpose Bond Rating offers a sustainability rating on corporate emissions, as "all debt must be sustainable", rather than only self-designated green bonds.
An initial rating benchmark of 60 general purpose bonds currently listed on the secondary market has been launched, analysing corporate bonds in various currencies, with a maturity of at least ten years and an outstanding amount equal to or greater than $2bn.
The nine-point scale spans EEE to F, with five points designated as investment grade, two as lower investment grade and two as non-investment grade, with a middle point of EE- meaning a bond offers an "adequate" level of sustainability.
Within the first 60 firms rated, only Vodafone Group offers an EEE bond, while Goldman Sachs, Nissan Motor, Walmart, Home Depot, Orange and Anheuser-Busch InBev are rated lower investment grade, and ExxonMobil and Tencent Holdings are both designated non-investment grade.
Jacopo Schettini Gherardini, director of research at Standard Ethics, said: "Green bonds are green by definition. They are like good wine poured into a glass. Add corporate debt to that and it is like adding water to wine. In the end, we need to analyse what goodness is left."