October 31, 2021 – As The Family of Nations gathers for COP 26 climate talks in Glasgow – the USA is back at at the table.
What is President Joe Biden and the American delegation bringing with them to Scotland? A big announcement from the White House just a few days ago that signals “we are serious”. Especially in regulatory and financial matters.
by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist – G&A Institute
The gathering of the family of the world’s nations in Glasgow, Scotland for “COP 26” (the annual UN climate summit) is at hand!
There has been an increasing flow of news and opinion related to the big event as the United Nations, almost 200 sovereign governments, NGOs, corporations, and other constituencies announce a widening range of developments related to the summit now underway
In the United States, a significant announcement came in October as the Federal government’s FSOC – the Financial Stability Oversight Council “engaged on climate change”.
We’re sharing the important background with you:
You may recall that in May 2021, soon after taking office, The Biden-Harris Administration detailed the policies and actions of its “whole of government” approach to climate change in the “U.S. Climate-Related Risk Executive Order” (the “EO”) originally issued in May 2021.
The EO set out the federal government’s climate risk accountability framework and the implementation strategies for the “whole of government” approach to climate-related financial risk.
Think about the agencies affected by the EO: NASA; DoD; Labor; Interior; HHS; Education; the Federal Acquisition Council (considering GhG emissions when making buying decisions)…and many more.
The policies in the EO and in then implementation steps by Federal agencies are again in public view as President Joe Biden prepared to participate in the COP 26 meetings.
The White House reminded us of EO 14030 in a news announcement (“A Roadmap to Build a Climate-Resilient Economy”) on October 14th.
This was the backdrop for the announcement from the powerful FSOC via U.S. Treasury Department for planned measures to protect retirement plans, homeowners, consumers, businesses and supply chains, workers, and the federal government from the financial risks of climate change.
Policies and actions were outlined for us as the FSOC on October 21 at identified climate change as an emerging and increasing threat to financial stability.
To review: there are six important “workstreams” in the Federal government’s framework to address climate-related financial risk:
• Protecting the resilience of the U.S. financial system.
• Protecting life savings and pensions.
• Using Federal procurement (federal agencies are the largest buyers of goods and services in the nation).
• Incorporating the risks into Federal lending and underwriting.
• Incorporating the risks into the Federal financial management and budgeting.
• Building resilient infrastructure and communities.
In the historic May 2021 EO “financial regulation” was among the issues addressed; now we are seeing the implementation plans of the government’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (the FSOC), the member group of key regulators as the agencies of the council spell out approaches to engagement on climate change issues.
Important: the work of the regulatory agencies in the FSOC affects many aspects of the American society: the Federal Reserve System and 12 district banks; Department of Treasury; the Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC), part of Treasury that regulates national banks; Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC); Commodity Trading Futures Commission (CTFC); and, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
The FSOC’s new report demonstrates the Council’s and member Federal agencies’ commitment to building on and accelerating existing efforts on climate change through “concrete recommendations” to the individual member agencies.
In our conversations with corporate managers and investment professionals we often explain that after the 2008 financial crisis, the member nations of the G20 came together to address financial risk matters in the new Financial Stability Board (FSB). This is a “think tank” approach to developing policies that each G20 nation can bring back to their regulatory agencies for consideration.
The FSB created the TCFD (Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosure), chaired by Michael Bloomberg. Important to keep in mind: the representatives to the FSB are the Secretary of the Treasury; the Federal Reserve chair; and, the SEC chair.
Each of those regulatory agencies and their leaders are members of the Federal government’s Financial Stability Oversight Council.
Commenting on the latest developments at FSOC, former Federal Reserve chair, now Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen noted: the FSOC report puts climate change squarely at the forefront of the agenda of [Council member agencies] and is a critical first step forward in addressing the threat of climate change…it will by no means be the end of this work…”
We share the important documents related to these development as President Joe Biden and his delegation start their conversations at COP 26.
U.S. Financial Stability Oversight Council Engages on Climate Change
Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen Comments
From the White House: Executive Order #14030