Fannie Mae Green Bonds May Inspire Canada ESG Mortgage Debt
(Bloomberg) -- Fannie Mae could be among green and social debt issuers worldwide that Canadian lenders could look to as the North American country seeks to bridge a funding gap of as much as C$120 billion ($95 billion) for affordable housing as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government’s housing agency said.
The sustainable mortgage bonds, whose underlying collateral include a range of eligible housing loans, could be issued as government guaranteed or private-label residential mortgage-backed securities as well as covered bonds, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said in a report Thursday.
The Canadian instruments could be used to support affordable and accessible housing for vulnerable groups including seniors, refugees, victims of domestic violence or people with disabilities. Also they may be used to finance the development or retrofitting of buildings to reduce the residential sector’s environmental footprint.
“While this type of ESG bond might not be the sole solution to address the affordable housing gap, we expect them to become a catalyst for the housing sector,” said Carlos Mandujano, a project manager at CMHC. “SMBs would also play a relevant role in achieving energy efficiencies.”
The national housing agency is detailing the potential for SMBs at a time when institutions from the central bank to research departments of the country’s largest banks are raising concerns about a potential bubble in the housing market fueled by historically low interest rates as well as foreign investment. The residential sector accounts for almost 19% of emissions in Canada amid a goal of reaching net-zero discharges by 2050.
“The stage is set for SMBs to move into the spotlight in the housing market as they continue to grow and become more mainstream, and as the impacts of Covid-19 continue to materialize,” Mandujano said in the report. “It is thus imperative for issuers, investors, housing proponents and developers to have clarity on what SMBs are and why they could be so relevant for Canada and its housing market.”
If Canada sets its own ESG framework, the SMBs can help leverage its program of government guaranteed mortgage-backed securities, the report said.
Separately, CMHC said in November that it was working on a new framework for government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities that would include affordability-linked mortgages, as well as those associated with energy efficiency and low-carbon residential properties.
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