Launch of “Charting a New Climate: State-of-the-art tools and data for banks to assess credit risks and opportunities from physical climate change impacts”

Launch of “Charting a New Climate: State-of-the-art tools and data for banks to assess credit risks and opportunities from physical climate change impacts”

8 September 2020 – UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) has released a report on physical climate risks and opportunities from Phase II of its Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Banking Program with climate risk advisory and analytics firm, Acclimatise. The report, “Charting a New Climate”, provides a state-of-the-art blueprint to support financial institutions to navigate the changing physical climate risk landscape.

For banks, investors and financial institutions the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the widespread consequences of systemic, global risks. As such, the financial sector has continued to recognize the importance of responding effectively to climate risks and seizing opportunities. More firms than ever before are disclosing their climate risks and opportunities under the TCFD framework. At the same time, regulators and investors are demanding greater transparency on the way climate change will impact future business operations.

The TCFD Phase II banking pilot engaged thirty-nine global financial institutions on six continents. The program empowered participants to identify, assess, and manage their climate risks and opportunities. Participating banks were led through a series of modules designed to expand their physical risk and opportunities toolkits. Other climate experts were consulted throughout the program including analytics providers and leading climate scientists.

Phase II of UNEP FI’s Banking Pilot began in 2019 and builds upon the outcomes and findings of Phase I. The Phase I Pilot involved 16 commercial banks and developed initial methodologies for undertaking forward-looking scenario-based assessments of climate risks and opportunities in loan portfolios, in line with the TCFD recommendations. For physical risks and opportunities, it culminated in the publication of “Navigating a New Climate” in 2018.

The new report, “Charting a New Climate”, provides financial institutions with a state-of-the-art blueprint for evaluating physical risks and opportunities. Complete with case studies from participating banks, the report investigates leading practices for five critical topics related to physical risks and opportunities:

  1. Extreme events data and data portals – reviewed examples of climate and climate-related extreme events data and portals from both public (free to use) and commercial data providers[1].
  2. Portfolio physical risk heatmapping – recognized the benefits of examining total portfolio exposure and identifying where higher physical risks may lie before moving on to ‘deep-dive’ assessments of at-risk portfolio segments.
  3. Tools for physical risk assessment of financial risk – aimed to improve banks’ understanding of commercially-available tools and analytics, as well as training the Phase II banks to use the Phase I Excel-based methodologies.
  4. Physical risk correlation analysis of finance institution portfolios – was developed as banks recognized the value of having a deeper understanding of observed relationships between loan performance metrics and climate-related events.
  5. Analysis of opportunities driven by physical climate risk – aimed to provide insights into the climatic, business, policy and market-led drivers of physical risk-related opportunities.

The TCFD provides a useful framework for assessing and reporting on physical risks and opportunities; “Charting a New Climate” gives firms an expanded toolbox with which to approach this important work. Despite the tangible benefits to participating institutions, the insights contained within the report are also relevant for organisations across the finance sector. The toolkit developed in Phase II provides a comprehensive way for organisations to consider their physical risks and opportunities and move from assessment to action.

Charting a New Climate” marks the beginning, not the end, of the journey for financial institutions looking to holistically consider physical impacts. Banks need to continue to improve the external and internal streams they rely on for climate data about their borrowers. Tool providers will increasingly need to consider the interaction effects of simultaneous hazards in a warming world and the complex cause-effect chains linking those hazards to investment performance. Governance and risk management functions will need to integrate climate into their existing policies. The banking sector has a major role to play in implementation of the Paris Agreement by mobilizing financial flows to deliver adaptation and climate resilience.

For media enquiries and a copy of the embargoed report, please contact Mustafa Chaudhry on Mustafa.chaudhry@un.org

Download “Charting a New Climate” here.

Excerpts from Charting a New Climate

  • The Phase II pilot aimed to provide active guidance to banks on some of the pressing challenges in assessing physical risks and opportunities, focused on key methodological issues highlighted in Phase I. It took as its starting point the ‘future directions’ identified in the final chapter of the Phase I report, which identified key challenges and proposed ways forward to begin to address them. It aimed to deepen and improve upon the Phase I methodologies. This Phase II report therefore provides richer technical guidance, and more information on resources available to assess physical risks and opportunities than its Phase I forerunner.
  • Case Study from [Redacted]: Physical risk analytics are not homogenous between vendors even for listed companies, while there are particular challenges in assessing physical risks for SMEs due to a lack of data on those companies. Scenarios are not granular enough and not all the hazards are integrated. Overall, there is still a lot of room for improvement in the information area. Key areas of improvement we would wish to see from physical risk analytical tools include greater flexibility, accuracy and easy management of massive volumes of information (e.g. retail mortgages).
  • Previous correlation studies show that storm surges, wildfires, sea level rise, inland flooding, drought, and other hazards are already impacting financial portfolios. This is because globally significant climate models such as El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation drive extreme weather, physical risks, and related socio-economic impacts. By discovering opposing associations (such as floods in one region coinciding with droughts in another) it may eventually be possible for portfolio managers to hedge against such physical risks.
  • Physical climate change impacts are often considered as a risk management challenge. What is missing is a recognition of the banking sector’s critical role in the implementation of the Paris Agreement by mobilizing financial flows to deliver adaptation and resilience. It is essential that banks assess and explore the opportunities to provide finance within their markets and to their counterparties. The opportunities framework has been designed to enable banks to explore how they can align their strategic and operational activities with the Paris Agreement and play a major role in the mobilization of private sector finance towards adaptation. This chapter explores several key drivers which will influence the demand for finance from counterparties as they respond the impacts of a changing climate.
  • Physical risk correlation analysis of FI portfolios – was developed as banks recognized the value of having a deeper understanding of observed relationships between loan performance metrics and climate-related events. Some banks have reported that borrowers are already being affected by climate and weather events, and these effects provide early signals of a changing climate, and empirical evidence which may help to calibrate forward-looking physical climate risk assessments. The module provided a step-by-step process for banks to undertake correlation analysis with a worked example using actual property values for an anonymized coastal city and its neighborhoods in the US. The results revealed neighborhoods and types of house experiencing ‘climate gentrification’ – a term used to describe increases in real estate values in neighborhoods that are more resilient to climate-related threats. The module also summarized recent developments in scientific research on correlation analysis and more sophisticated statistical techniques, based on a review of more than 50 studies investigating flood, drought and wildfire risks within the real estate and agriculture sectors.

Quotes

The Working Group

The Working Group includes the following thirty-nine banks: ABN-AMRO, ABSA, Access Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, BMO, Bradesco, Caixa Bank, CIBC, CIMB, Citibanamex, Credit Suisse, Danske Bank, Deutsche Bank, DNB, EBRD, FirstRand, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Itau, KBC, Lloyds, Mizuho, MUFG, NAB, Nat West, Nedbank, NIB, Nomura, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Scotia Bank, Shinhan, Standard Bank, Standard Chartered, TD Bank, TSKB and UBS to develop a blueprint for assessing the climate-related physical risks and opportunities for banks’ corporate credit portfolios.

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About

Acclimatise

Acclimatise is a specialist advisory and analytics company providing world-class expertise in climate change adaptation and risk management. Founded in 2004, their mission is to help clients understand and adapt to climate risk and take advantage of the emerging opportunities that climate change will bring. With offices in the UK, US, India and mainland Europe, Acclimatise has worked in over 60 countries worldwide. Working with financial institutions, national and local governments, multilateral organisations, and major corporations, Acclimatise has been at the forefront of climate change adaptation for over a decade.

UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)

UNEP FI is a partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector to mobilize private sector finance for sustainable development. UNEP FI works with more than 300 members – banks, insurers, and investors – and over 100 supporting institutions – to help create a financial sector that serves people and planet while delivering positive impacts. UNEP FI aims to inspire, inform and enable financial institutions to improve people’s quality of life without compromising that of future generations. By leveraging the UN’s role, UNEP FI accelerates sustainable finance.


[1] While there are many portals providing data on projected future incremental changes in temperature and precipitation, the Phase I pilot identified a lack of data on future changes in extreme events.

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