‘Draw up climate rules or have them imposed’, Bank of England tells corporates

Carney (pictured) launched the TCFD in 2015 with Michael Bloomberg. Image: Bank of England

Mark Carney said companies should use their next two annual financial reports to road test how they document the impact of the climate emergency on their businesses.

He said progress had been made by many of the largest banks and energy companies to harmonise how they report their risks, but added: “Progress in both quantity and quality is uneven across sectors.”

Speaking in Tokyo at a conference held by the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Carney said there was an appetite among investors to support companies that understand their climate risks following research that showed they were likely to expand at a faster rate.

“The TCFD needs to reach a definitive view of what counts as a high-quality disclosure before they become mandatory. In my view the next two reporting periods should balance the urgency of the task and the imperative of getting it right,” he said.

“This is best delivered by the current process of disclosure by the users of capital, reaction by the suppliers of capital, and adjustment of these standards to ensure that the TCFD metrics are as comparable, efficient and as decision-useful as possible.”

Carney launched the TCFD in 2015 with Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire owner of the financial data provider that carries his name.

Bloomberg took on the role as founder and head of the organisation, tapping his vast contact list of chief executives and financiers to convince them that reporting the impact of their businesses on the environment and the way they would be affected by rising temperatures was a precondition of tackling the climate emergency.

The former New York mayor has signed up a range of banks, asset managers, pension funds and insurers that control balance sheets totalling $120tn (£98tn) to the project. He says four-fifths of the top 1,100 companies operating from the G20 countries are disclosing climate-related financial risks in line with some of the TCFD recommendations.

The aim is to develop a series of rules governing how companies report the effect of warming temperatures on their businesses alongside data showing the contribution of their activities to the problem.

With trillions of dollars needed to build climate-friendly infrastructure, investors needed to know which companies to back and which to shun, Carney said.

Some companies have discovered that their activities would contribute to the planet warming by 3C or more, breaching the Paris climate agreement limit.

Carney said: “Consistent with the Paris accord’s objective to stabilise temperature increases to below 2C, many governments are now committing to reaching net-zero carbon by 2050.”

He said: “In convening this summit, Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe [of Japan] has rightly highlighted the enormous investments that will be necessary to deliver these objectives.

“With an estimated $90tn of infrastructure spending expected between 2015 and 2030, the right decisions now can make sure those investments are both financially rewarding and environmentally sustainable.”

Carney said the popularity of the TCFD initiative meant three-quarters of investors were using its disclosure rules before buying company shares.

In the summer Carney said the Bank of England planned to stress-test banks for catastrophic climate-linked financial risks as part of its annual health check of the banking system in 2021.

It said it would look at the risks facing UK banks from a dramatic rise in global temperatures and mounting natural disasters, as well as a separate scenario where governments introduce new rules to limit the burning of fossil fuels.

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Phillip Inman

This article first appeared on the Guardian

edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network 

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