January 25, 2020

Why the Fed, Long Reticent, Has Started to Talk About Climate Change

Ms. Brainard said the central bank was discussing how it might participate in a network of about 40 global central banks that was created in 2017 to promote discussions about climate-related financial and macroeconomic issues. The goal of becoming more active with the Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System, she said, would be to “learn from our international colleagues’ approaches to measuring and managing climate risks in the financial system.”

The Fed may stop short of the climate-related action embraced by some of its global peers.

The Bank of England’s head, Mark Carney, talks openly and regularly about the need for changes. The institution is stress-testing its financial system against potential climate developments, essentially running scenarios to see how banks would fare amid different government policies and weather outcomes.

Christine Lagarde, the new president of the European Central Bank, left the door open to using environmental sustainability as a criterion when the central bank carries out bond-buying programs to bolster the economy.

She noted in recent written responses to the European Parliament that once the European Commission set a standard for bonds to qualify as “green,” the central bank would “need to assess whether and how it can apply” to asset purchase programs.

In America, that kind of activity is not yet on the table.

Climate change “is an absolute first-order issue,” the Fed’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, said in a question-and-answer session in Denver last month. “Less obvious is that it’s a first-order business for central banks.”

“We’re not in a place where, I think, we would conduct monetary policy to deal with climate-change-type issues,” he added, explaining that the Fed already regulates banks with an eye on severe weather.

The Fed can legally buy only government- or agency-backed securities, so some sort of green buying campaign would most likely be beyond its authority. Other central banks have more flexibility.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/08/business/economy/federal-reserve-climate-change.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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