Alibaba’s sustainability bonds fund green power, Covid-19 relief projects in China

The largest portion of the proceeds were dedicated to energy-efficient data centres
The e-commerce giant pledged to cut 1.5 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2035
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding has allocated net proceeds of US$986.9 million from its inaugural sustainability bonds to 12 projects.

The bonds, issued last February, were used to fund initiatives in five environmental, social, and governance areas, including energy efficiency, green buildings, Covid-19 crisis response, renewable energy, and “circular economy and design” – a business strategy centring on reuse and recycling – the company announced on the first anniversary of this pioneering initiative in China’s tech sector.

Alibaba, owner of the South China Morning Post, distributed the largest portion of the proceeds – 45.7 per cent, or US$451 million – to the construction of energy-efficient data centres that apply hot air recycling, waste water recovery, and recycling systems to reduce energy consumption and absorb heat generated by critical hardware.

One of these data centres, located in Zhangbei county in the northern province of Hebei, consumed around 30,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy during last November’s Singles’ Day shopping festival, reducing 26,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the company said.

Around 35.7 per cent of the bond proceeds were spent on building and refurbishing green buildings, while the rest were used for Covid-19 relief efforts, the purchases of solar and wind power, and recycling and waste management programmes.

Alibaba has promised to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The Hangzhou-based firm said it has been working with merchants and consumers across its platforms to cut 1.5 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2035.

The goal is in line with China’s target to hit peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Other Chinese Big Tech companies have also pledged to fight environmental and social problems.

Social media and video gaming giant Tencent Holdings said in its latest corporate social responsibility report that its fourth-generation data centres – which use evaporative cooling, solar power, natural cooling and other energy-saving technologies – went online in July 2020.

The company also said that it established a 1.5 billion yuan (US$211 million) China-based fund and a US$100 million global fund to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile e-commerce giant JD.com published a green finance framework last December that included bonds, loans, and other forms of debt financing to fund projects related to energy efficiency, green buildings, clean transport, renewable energy, and circular economy-adapted products.

Author: Coco Feng, SCMP

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