Mark Carney and Christine Lagarde have urged companies, institutions and central banks to speed up climate risk assessment and disclosure, ahead of the Glasgow climate summit in November.
Addressing the heads of several of the UK’s largest banks at the Guildhall in London on Thursday, Mr Carney, governor of the Bank of England, called on more institutions to join the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure, an initiative to get companies to calculate their exposure to climate risk and disclose it to investors.
He said he hoped the TCFD standards would become compulsory. “We will work with authorities to commit to pathways to make that reporting mandatory,” he said.
Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, threw her weight behind calls for companies to provide much fuller disclosure of their exposure to climate change risks.
Ms Lagarde cited the patchy level of information provided by the 26 biggest eurozone banks and insurers as evidence that “we still have some way to go”. She added: “Only five out of the 26 partially disclose the impact of their financial assets, and none of them provide full disclosure.”
The central bank chiefs were speaking at the launch of a finance agenda for the UN climate summit, known as COP26, in Glasgow, with Thursday’s event seen as an attempt to get the gathering in the Scottish city back on track after a difficult start.
“The objective for the private finance workof this COP26 is simple — to ensure that every financial decision takes climate change into account,” Mr Carney said.
“Every company, every bank, every insurer will have to adjust their business models,” he added.
Mr Carney said that working with other regulators who were undertaking climate stress tests would be a top priority, pointing out that 15 jurisdictions other than the UK had committed to doing so.
But the absence of the US — which under President Donald Trump is preparing to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement this autumn — will make global central bank action difficult.
Mr Carney, who is also UN special envoy for climate action and finance and is set to step down from the BoE in March, has made climate risk a priority and last year launched the bank’s first climate stress tests for large banks and institutions.
The Guildhall event highlighted that climate finance, and adapting the financial system to address climate risks, will be a major theme ahead of the Glasgow summit.
Ms Lagarde, who promised to make climate change risks “a mission-critical priority” when she took over as ECB president last year, said: “Central banks need to devote greater attention to understanding the impact of climate change, including its implications for inflation dynamics.”
The ECB would publish the results of its debut stress test of climate risks in the 90 most systemically important financial institutions in the eurozone by the end of this year, she said.
“Importantly, it will also at some stage model how dynamic interactions can amplify the effects, for example if banks react to losses by deleveraging,” she added.
The ECB was “paying close attention” to how credit rating agencies incorporated climate risks into their models and would evaluate “the implications for our own management of risk, in particular through our collateral framework”, she said.
David Schwimmer, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group, said climate risk standards should be applied evenly. “This would be most effective as a global standard,” he said. “It’s important that we try to maintain a level playing field between public companies and private companies.”
As well as encouraging businesses to sign up to the TCFD standards, the finance agenda for COP26 will include creating a network of central banks around the world that are starting to conduct climate stress tests.
Companies, banks and asset managers can use the TCFD standards to assess and disclose their climate risks. Businessesthat together control more than $135tn in assets have volunteered to adopt the standards, which were launched in 2017 by the Financial Stability Board, an international body that monitors the global financial system.
Critics say the UK is far behind in its preparations for COP26 compared with where France, host of the 2015 climate talks, was at a similar point.
Alok Sharma, the UK business secretary and new COP26 president, said the climate summit would be “the top international priority for this government”.
In January, Boris Johnson abruptly fired Mr Sharma’s COP26 predecessor Claire O’Neill, who subsequently accused the UK prime minister of failing to provide leadership for the summit.
Mr Sharma was given the job after several senior politicians — including former prime minister David Cameron — turned it down.