(Bloomberg) – Cat bonds are hailed as the next frontier for socially responsible investing.

Such debts, which insure against natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and pandemics, are gaining traction with investors looking to prove their ethical qualifications. Proponents say the notes fit the bill because they provide humanitarian aid and spread the cost of protection.

They remain a niche part of a booming global social debt market that funds projects to support society with an increase in new types of assets. Record-breaking social debt sales in the European Union have helped ethical offerings account for more than one in five bond deals in the region this year.

“Reliable emergency funding for disasters is a very important tool for society,” said Joanna Syroka, senior underwriter and director of new markets at Fermat Capital Management in London. “Over the past year we have had an increasing number of inquiries from end investors who want to understand what ESG means for insurance-linked securities.”

Investors face a staggering $ 2 trillion rainbow of ethical debt

According to Bloomberg, catastrophe bond issuance has reached $ 36.3 billion so far. That’s a drop in the bucket of an ethical debt market now valued at over $ 2 trillion. The investment potential is rising, however, as the net worth of environmental, social and governance funds in Europe rose 37% to 1.2 trillion euros ($ 1.4 trillion) last year, compared to conventional funds, according to a report of the European Fund grew by less than 5% and Asset Management Association.

Cat bonds, typically popular with those seeking higher yields and uncorrelated returns on other assets, are now tapping into the general demand for ESG investing. In a first of its kind, the Danish Red Cross sold $ 3 million in bonds last week to offer special insurance against volcanic eruptions.

“Being prepared for emergencies is not only a clear commitment to help, but also impressively shows that the capital market can meet its social responsibility through CAT bonds,” said Nico Rischmann, co-founder of Plenum Investments, who bought the Vulkananleihe .

The story goes on

David Howden, chairman of the board of Howden Group Holdings, which brokered the deal, called it a “humanitarian service” and said that replicating the bond structure in other areas would “benefit the world.”

The bond investor revolt is brewing over the flood market for fake green debt

Innovations in catastrophe bonds are welcomed as long as they are well thought out and structured, according to Fermat’s Syroka. The market has been criticized for not diverting money fast enough to fight the deadly waves of Ebola and Covid-19.

“Many investors are unaware of the many different elements of the machines that must function properly to produce socially positive results,” said Glen Yelton, director of ESG customer strategy for North America at Invesco in Atlanta. “Catastrophe bonds help make insurance coverage affordable, and this feature will become increasingly important with the impact of climate change in the future.”

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