Oct 28, 2020
U.S. financial regulators need to step up in the fight against climate change, according to one of their own.
Rostin Behnam, a commissioner at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, talks to ESG Insider, an S&P Global podcast on environmental, social and governance issues, about a report released in September by a panel of nearly three dozen Wall Street, energy and sustainability executives and experts. In the report, the CFTC's Climate-Related Market Risk Subcommittee concluded that climate change poses a "major risk" to the stability of the American financial system and the broader economy.
"U.S. financial regulators need to recognize this risk and move urgently and decisively to address" climate change," Behnam says in the episode.
The landmark report included more than 50 recommendations calling on lawmakers and financial regulators across the U.S. to address climate risk. It has already sparked new conversations about the relationship between the financial industry and climate change.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, introduced legislation Oct. 21 that would ban financial companies from making new investments in fossil fuels, while citing the report from the CFTC subcommittee. And the New York Public Service Commission recently noted the CFTC panel's findings when discussing whether to require annual reports from major electric and gas utilities on their climate-related risks.
"Climate change is not linear in many respects," Behnam said. "It's not comparable to a traditional financial analyst's work when they evaluate public companies or risk more generally. So we have to, both the public sector and the private sector, adapt to climate change over the years. Nothing is clearly predictable. We do have a sense that climate change will get worse if we don't change our patterns."
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