SINGAPORE (Apr 29): Green bonds could be a key tool to finance the fight against climate change. But good luck getting your hands on one, or figuring out exactly what it is worth.

The securities are just like regular bonds, except their proceeds are earmarked to fund projects that have positive benefits for the environment or climate. Countries including Poland and France have issued them to support renewable energy. Companies may use bond proceeds on projects that reduce emissions or enable funding for electric vehicles. Municipalities are also big issuers of green bonds. More than US$600 billion ($816 billion) in green bonds have been issued worldwide in the past decade, according to Bloomberg NEF (BNEF).

The bonds have something of a built-in customer base of socially conscious investors, including pensions and non-profits. These investors tend to snap them up — most new green bond issues are oversubscribed — and hold them until they come due. This has put the market in a somewhat awkward spot: The bonds are clearly popular, but since they do not trade much, it is hard to get a precise view of their market value at any given moment. That could be keeping companies from issuing more of them.

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