CICERO Second opinions

Our approach

Research-based, independent and relevant


CICERO Shades of Green Second Opinions build on our renowned climate research. We provide independent environmental assessments of the green bond framework and the issuer’s relevant internal governance procedures.


In providing independent reviews of green bonds since the market’s inception, we developed a scalable and flexible solution to provide environmental due diligence. Our Shades of Green methodology gives transparent information on how well a green bond aligns with a low-carbon resilient future.  Our Second Opinions are graded light green, medium green and dark green.

We assess whether a given activity or technology supports a low-carbon and climate resilient society in the long-term. In some cases, activities or technologies that reduce emissions in the near-term result in a prolonged use of high-emitting infrastructure and an increase in net emissions in the long term. CICERO Shades of Green strives to avoid locking-in of emissions through careful infrastructure investments and moving towards low- or zero-emitting infrastructure.


The shades of green


Light green is allocated to projects and solutions that are climate friendly but do not by themselves represent or contribute to the longterm vision. These represent necessary and potential significant short-term GHG emission reductions, but neeed to be managed to avoid extension of equipment lifetime that can lock-in fossil fuel elements. Projects may be exposed to the physical and transitional climate risk without appropriate strategies in place to protect them. Examples include efficiency investments for shipping technologies where clean alternatives are not available.


Medium green is allocated to projets and sollutions that represent steps towars the long-term vision, but are not quite there yet. Fossil-fueled technologies that lock in long-term emissions do not qualify for financing. Physical and transition climate risks might be considered. Examples include bridging technologies such as plug-in hybrid buses.


Dark green is allocated to projects and solutions that correspond to the long-term vision of a low carbon and climate resilient future. Fossil-fueled technologies that lock in long-term emissions do not qualify for financing. Ideally, exposure to transitional and physical climate risk is considered or mitigated. Examples include wind energy projects with a strong governance structure that integrates environmental concerns.



The Green Bond Principles outline voluntary guidance for green bonds, but do not take a position on the quality of green solutions. This is where CICERO Shades of Green finds its pivotal role, to connect climate change science with the financial markets. 

We assess the environmental soundness of green projects: mitigation projects for their potential to reduce or abate emissions, and adaptation projects for their potential to help society adapt to concrete efforts of climate change.

Governance and transparency considerations also factor in as they give an indication of the capabilities of the issuer to implement the climate and environmental ambitions of the investment framework.

Our Second Opinions are desk reviews, based on documentation provided by the issuer and information gathered during meetings, teleconferences and e-mail correspondence with the issuer.

CICERO Shades of Green provides an ex-ante assessment based on knowledge that is available at the time of issuance.


Our global reach

CICERO Shades of Green works with both international and domestic issuers, drawing on the global expertise of the Expert Network on Second Opinions (ENSO) to broaden the technical, language and regional expertise.

The ENSO network consists of independent non-profit research institutions specialising in climate change, environment and society. ENSO members currently include the Basque Center for Climate Change (BC3), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and Tsinghua University’s Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy.

ENSO operates independently from the financial sector and other stakeholders to preserve the unbiased nature and high quality of second opinions.

thumbnail (1).png
thumbnail (2).png

Award winning Second Opinions

CICERO Second Opinions have received several international awards. The Climate Bonds Initiative awarded CICERO in 2017 for being the biggest Second Opinion provider, while investors selected us as the Best External Review Provider for the Environmental Finance Green Bond Awards in both 2017 and 2018.