Society for Economic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Climate finance, a sector of finance focused on investments in sustainable infrastructure to counteract climate change, has grown rapidly over the last ten years. Within climate finance, the green bond market, composed of bonds financing sustainable infrastructure, has grown dramatically post 2013 from $53.2 billion in outstanding green bonds at the end of 2014 to over $536 billion in early 2019. The green bond market is pushed forward by climate finance practitioners living in global cities from London, New York City, and Hong Kong. While these practitioners evaluate the sustainability of infrastructure financed by green bonds, ranging from public transit to renewable energy, their own perceptions of sustainability are embedded within their experiences of the built environments in which they live. From these embedded perceptions of sustainability, standards are produced that influence sustainable development at a global scale, impacting local populations far beyond the lived reality of urban climate finance practitioners. Drawing from fieldwork carried out in London, Boston, and New York City from 2015 to 2019, in this paper I argue that the embedded human-environment relations in spaces of climate finance work are vital to the production of sustainability standards in the green bond market, standards that influence local climate adaptation and mitigation efforts globally.