The transportation sector is one of the hard-to-abate sectors as the world works to meet climate goals to keep the temperatures from rising no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels: decarbonizing transportation is a costly process for governments, whether local or national.

In Bogotá, the Colombian capital, the Transmilenio mass transit system is showing that energy transition can happen in the sector – in this case, through an initiative to replace fleets of diesel-guzzling buses with 400 of their electric counterparts that will reduce emissions while improving the ride experience for more than 20 million riders annually.

The transport sector contributes by 15% to the global greenhouse gas emissions, so developing electromobility is an important tool in helping achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, a central pillar of the UN’s Paris Agreement.

Antonio Carneiro, Head of Corporate Finance at Enel Finance America, accepts the award

Enel Colombia, the project’s sponsor alongside InfraBridge (formerly AMP Capital), hopes the initiative will set a precedent for similar projects going forward. “We structured the project financing using a novel asset, a fleet of electric buses, which will hopefully open the way for more projects of this kind in the future,” says a spokesperson for the company.

The financing, which involved a mix of commercial and development banks, featured two senior loans of close to 610 billion Colombian pesos (roughly $140 million) which were classed as “sustainability loans” under the Green & Social loan principles..

BNP Paribas acted as sole hedge coordinator and sustainability loan coordinator, structuring and executing a US dollar-Colombian peso cross-currency swap and providing half the financing. IDB Invest, the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank and UK Sustainable Infrastructure Program (UK SIP) underwrote 50% of the total loans, with the latter providing around $20 million in blended financing, but synthetically paid in Colombian pesos. Astris Finance served as financial advisor.

“The project financing has multiple dimensions for Enel. The financial closure demonstrated the successful collaboration of banks, financial sponsors and public institutions in Bogotá through the Transmilenio to design a viable business model that met the environmental, industrial and social objectives of the parties,” says Enel Colombia.

The project has numerous benefits to help Colombia meet its net zero targets under the Paris Agreement. It will achieve an estimated reduction of 43,000 tons/year of CO2 compared to the original diesel-fueled buses, including substantial reductions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The CO2 is equivalent to planting 3.9 million new trees. The new e-buses will reduce by 75 percent the energy costs for the system.

The buses, manufactured by Chinese automaker BYD, will dramatically reduce noise pollution and improve the security of passengers with a new camera system. The new buses are equipped with tracking systems, allowing for more efficient routing. An additional environmental perk involves BYD’s commitment to receive and recycle old batteries, eliminating a risk for Bogotá.

Sponsors: Enel and Infrabridge

Banks: BNP Paribas, IDB Invest, UK Sustainable Infrastructure Program, Financial Advisors, Astris Finance

Law Firms: Brigard & Urrutia, Clifford Chance, Gomez Pinzon, PPU, White & Case

All supporting financial institutions and law firms were transmitted to LatinFinance by the award category winners. For updates please email