Category: Finance

Climate change could be bad news for your retirement plans

Climate change could be bad news for your retirement plans

By Georgina Wade

A survey released just last month by Natixis Investment Managers paints a grim picture for people hoping for an old age free of financial stress. An accompanying report on the impact of global warming making the findings even worse.

Taken together, the studies suggest that retirees are at risk, due to a trifecta of issues resulting from foreseeable low interest rates, longer lifespans and the high costs of climate change.

Low interest rates may stimulate borrowing, but they also present a significant hurdle for those saving for retirement and those looking to generate income. Additionally, rapidly aging populations and longevity can result in an unbalanced old-age dependency ratio: the ratio of people over the age of 65 to the working-age population, age 15-65. This may be most important for Generation Z, with UN projections showing that by 2065, retirees should plan for living another 24 years in retirement.

Amongst these, a long-term risk to global sustainability presents an immediate financial risk today. While the risk of climate change is often viewed through a long-term lens, today it presents tangible health and financial risks to millions of retirees that will challenge policy makers round the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that climate change is expected to cause 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050, while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that extreme heat has increased the risk of illness among older adults, especially those with chronic illness. Adding to that, Natixis report states that “retirees are finding insurance costs escalating as insurers seek to keep pace with climate and weather-related property damage.”

[Get more insight into these key threats, as well as detail on the how and why of country rankings. Download the full report here.


Cover photo by James Jose Jr. on Unsplash.
MinterEllison announces new guide on developments in climate risk governance and disclosure

MinterEllison announces new guide on developments in climate risk governance and disclosure

By Georgina Wade

A new guide from law firm MinterEllison is highlighting developments made in climate risk governance and disclosure that are critical to the provision of a true and fair view of financial position, performance and prospects, and to the management of misleading disclosure risks under the Corporations Act.

                  The guide, “Are your finance and governance teams ready? Responding to heightened expectations on climate-related disclosure and assurance”, contains a useful background to the evolution of climate change from an environmental to a financial issue, and goes on to capture contemporary developments in the realm of financial risk disclosure. Recent developments include the AASB/AuASB’s joint guidance on the integration of climate change-related risks into financial statement materiality considerations, to scenario-planning under the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

                  This comes just after their recent Insight publication, “New developments impact climate change related risks”, examining recent developments that are likely to impact the way that Australian listed companies consider climate change related risk.

                  Click here to access the guide.

Learn more about Acclimatise’s work on climate risk disclosure here.


Cover photo by Brandon Jacoby on Unsplash.
Acclimatise becomes an official signatory of TCFD

Acclimatise becomes an official signatory of TCFD

Acclimatise today became an official signatory of the Financial Sustainability Board’s (FSB) Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). The initiative, established by Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg, has been central in providing momentum for climate change action in the financial services industry.

Acclimatise has worked with UNEP FI and the world’s leading banks to help consider how they might implement the TCFD recommendations. Through its work, Acclimatise has helped develop methodologies for assessing physical climate risk to loan portfolios and is a leading advisor on climate risk and opportunity to the financial services industry.

The company’s supporting statement under the TCFD reads:

“Aligning strategies to stabilise our financial and climatic systems is vital. Corporate and financial institutions have a significant role to play in this. The incorporation of TCFD recommendations in their governance systems and decision-making processes is in fact key if we are to ensure a sustainable and climate compatible future, particularly in light of unmet governmental climate targets. We are proud to support this initiative and we will continue to excel at developing methodologies and metrics to help corporates and financial services organisations to identify, quantify, and disclose physical climate risks and opportunities.”


For more information about Acclimatise’s work on climate risk and financial services click here.


Image: World Economic Forum: Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England. World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland. CC by 2.0.

Investor portfolios failing to account for climate risk says BlackRock

Investor portfolios failing to account for climate risk says BlackRock

By Will Bugler

Investors are under-pricing the impact of climate-related risks, including more frequent and intense extreme weather events, and need to rethink their assessment of asset vulnerabilities, according to a new report by the BlackRock Investment Institute.

While the physical manifestations of climate change are clear, including rising sea levels, and more intense hurricanes, wildfires and droughts, how investors incorporate these risks into their analysis is not.

The report, “Getting physical: Scenario analysis for assessing climate risks ” uses new tools and data to articulate the potential impact on different U.S. asset classes, marking an important next step as investors increasingly recognize the importance of integrating climate-related risk factors in the investment process.

“The combination of advances in data sciences, including geolocation data and climate modelling, have allowed us to more precisely assess the investment implications of climate-related risks” said Brian Deese, Global Head of Sustainable Investing, BlackRock.

“Asset-level analysis is key for investors. We find that the risk posed by more frequent and severe weather events such as hurricanes and wildfires are not fully reflected in the price of many assets, including U.S. utility equities. A rising share of municipal bond issuance is set to come from regions facing climate-related economic losses. And many high-risk commercial properties are outside official flood zones.”

Many investors recognize that climate-related risks are growing. However, until recently, most investors did not have access to data showing the potential impact at the asset level of both direct physical risks and indirect economic impacts as well. Working with Rhodium Group, BlackRock leveraged 160 terabytes of data to assess these climate-related risks facing specific asset classes, both today, and under a range of future climate scenarios reaching out to 2100.

Specific findings of BlackRock’s research include:

Municipal Bonds

  • Within a decade, more than 15% of the current S&P National Municipal Bond Index (by market value) would comprise metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) suffering likely average annualised climate-related economic losses of up to 0.5% to 1% of GDP.
  • Looking out to 2080, an estimated 58% of U.S. metro areas will likely see GDP losses of up to 1% or more, with less than 1% set to enjoy gains of similar magnitude.
  • The New York City region faces annual losses equivalent to roughly 1% of GDP by late century.
  • Florida will be affected the most, with Naples, Panama City and Key West seeing likely annual GDP losses of up to 15% or more, mostly driven by coastal storms.
  • Miami’s current annual GDP losses are already more than 1% and projected to grow to an annualised 4.5% of GDP by the end of the century.

Commercial Real Estate and CMBS

  • The median risk of a building that backs a CMBS bond being hit by a Category 4 or 5 hurricane today has risen by 137% since 1980.
  • BlackRock is projecting a 275% increase in the risk of category 5 hurricanes between now and 2050.
  • More than 80% of properties tied to CMBS loans affected by recent hurricanes in Houston and Miami are outside official flood zones.
  • New York City is facing rising sea levels of up to three feet by the end of century exposing more than $70 billion of property to potential losses.

Utilities

  • Investors in utility stocks are quick to sell out of these names following an extreme weather event, with stocks down 1.5% on average over the ensuing 40 days.
  • However, these stocks recover quickly while the true economic losses are still being calculated, suggesting that investors are focused on headline risk rather than assessing utilities’ vulnerability to climate-related weather events.
  • BlackRock has generated a climate-risk exposure score for every U.S. utility based on a plant-by-plant assessment of physical risk, and finds that the most climate-resilient utilities tend to trade at a slight premium to their peers. This gap may become more pronounced over time as weather events turn more extreme and frequent.

Cover photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash.
Enabling access to the Green Climate Fund: Sharing country lessons from South Asia

Enabling access to the Green Climate Fund: Sharing country lessons from South Asia

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) aims to support developing countries to take ambitious action on climate change. It helps to facilitate the flow of climate finance from rich countries to developing ones.

Accessing the GCF is a time-consuming process, and capacity constraints and the complicated procedures for accessing funding are affecting many developing countries’ ability to compete fairly and effectively for finance through the Fund.

In a newly released learning paper, and associated learning brief, the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme provides lessons from its experience helping partners to access GCF funding in South Asia.

The paper, “Enabling access to the Green Climate Fund: Sharing country lessons from South Asia”, presents a framework for strengthening access to the GCF, looking at entry-points and strategies that governments, funders and practitioners can use.

The paper draws on ACT’s experience supporting national and sub-national governments in five South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. It explores some of the challenges that countries face and the strategies that they have employed to overcome them. The paper presents a framework that shows entry-points and measures that governments funders and practitioners can use. Entry-points at the global level include the GCF’s own resources and capabilities, and at the national level includes national institutional capabilities, the design of projects, and the sustainability of financing.

ACT is a £23 million UK government-funded regional programme managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) in collaboration with many consortium partners. It has been working since 2014 in partnership with national and sub-national governments of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan to assist the integration of climate adaptation into development policies and actions while transforming systems of planning and delivery, including leveraging additional finance.


The full ACT learning paper “Enabling access to the Green Climate Fund: Sharing country lessons from South Asia” and a learning brief can be accessed here.

Action on Climate Today (ACT) is an initiative funded with UK aid from the UK government and managed by Oxford Policy Management (OPM).

Key Contact

Elizabeth Gogoi, Senior Consultant, Oxford Policy Management (OPM) Elizabeth.gogoi@opml.co.uk +91 98 11 55 2951


Cover photo by Stephane Hermellin on Unsplash.
The PRA issues a new supervisory statement setting out expectations for banks and insurers on managing the financial risks from climate change

The PRA issues a new supervisory statement setting out expectations for banks and insurers on managing the financial risks from climate change

By Laura Canevari and Robin Hamaker-Taylor

On 15th April, 2019, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) has released a supervisory statement relevant to all UK banks and insurance firms and groups. This SS is in alignment with PRA´s commitment to enhancing its approach to supervising the financial risks from climate change and to enhancing the resilience of the UK financial system by supporting an orderly market transition to a low-carbon economy.

Building on previous reviews of current practices in the banking and insurance sector, the PRA finds that few firms are taking a strategic approach toward managing climate related financial risks. For this reason, the new SS has set out clear expectations concerning the strategic approach that banks and insurers should take in relation to financial risks generated by climate change. Four key expectations are outlined in the SS:

  • Governance:
    The PRA expects firms to fully embed the consideration of the financial risks
    from climate change into their governance framework. This includes ensuring board-level
    engagement and accountability, and the designation of clear responsibilities
    for managing the financial risks from climate change at the board level and within
    relevant sub-committees. Additionally, firms are expected to ensure the adequate
    oversight of the risks according to the firm’s business strategy and risk
    appetite.
  • Risk
    Management
    : The PRA expects firms to address
    the financial risks from climate change through their existing risk management
    frameworks, in line with their board-approved risk appetite, while recognising
    that the nature of financial risks from climate change requires a strategic
    approach. Accordingly, firms are expected to identify, measure, monitor,
    manage, and report on their exposure to these risks. Evidence for these
    activities are expected to be provided in the written risk management policy,
    management information and board risk reports.
  • Scenario Analysis: Where proportionate,
    the PRA expects firms to use scenario analysis to assess the impact of the financial
    risks from climate change on current business strategy, and to inform the risk
    identification process. The scenarios used should explore the resilience and vulnerabilities of a firm’s
    business model to a range of outcomes, relating to different transition
    pathways to a low-carbon economy. They should also, where appropriate, include
    a short and a longer-term assessment of financial risks associated with a
    changing climate.
  • Disclosure:
    Firms should develop and maintain an appropriate approach to the disclosure of
    climate-related financial risks, considering not only the interaction with
    existing categories of risk, but also the distinctive elements of the financial
    risks arising from climate change, as described in the supervisory statement.
    These elements are: Impacts are far-reaching in breadth and magnitude; There
    are uncertain and extended time horizons; The risks have a foreseeable nature; There
    is a dependency on short-term actions.

Click here to access the full supervisory statement from the PRA.


Cover photo by Floraine Vita on Unsplash.

 

UK regulators host first meeting of Climate Financial Risk Forum

UK regulators host first meeting of Climate Financial Risk Forum

By Will Bugler

On Friday 8 March, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) hosted the first meeting of the Climate Financial Risk Forum (CFRF). The objective of the CFRF is to build capacity and share best practice across financial regulators and industry to advance financial sector responses to the financial risks from climate change.

The event brought together senior representatives from across the financial sector, including banks, insurers, and asset managers and will meet three times a year to discuss climate risks to the financial system. The event recognises that climate change and society’s response to it presents financial risks that are relevant to the PRA’s and FCA’s objectives.

‘The first forum meeting today was an important step in tackling a major threat to the future stability of the financial system’ said Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, ‘The Climate Financial Risk Forum will seek to encourage approaches in the financial sector, managing the financial risks from climate change as well as supporting innovation in green finance.’

The financial services sector is becoming increasingly concerned with both physical and transition risks. The recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) have spurred the industry to take action. Recently, UNEP FI and Acclimatise worked with 16 major banks to pilot methodologies  for assessing climate risks to loan portfolios and investments.

Firms are enhancing their approaches to managing these risks, but barriers remain to implement the strategic approach necessary to minimise the risks. The CFRF aims to reduce these barriers by developing practical tools and approaches to address climate-related financial risks.


‘The challenge we face in mitigating [climate] risks is unprecedented, and we need to begin to act now if we are to ensure an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy,’ said Sam Woods, Deputy Governor and CEO of the PRA.

At its first meeting, the forum decided to set up four working groups to focus on risk management, scenario analysis, disclosure, and innovation. Each working group will be chaired by a member of the forum and will meet more frequently than the CFRF, reporting back at each CFRF meeting. The aim is to produce practical guidance on each of the four focus areas. The final outputs will be shared with industry more widely. Membership of the working groups will be wider than the forum to allow them to draw on expertise as necessary, such as from academia and industry.


Cover photo by M.B.M. on Unsplash.

Comparing existing tools for assessing physical climate risks in the finance sector: Recent outputs from the ClimINVEST Research Project

Comparing existing tools for assessing physical climate risks in the finance sector: Recent outputs from the ClimINVEST Research Project

By Laura Canevari

Understanding the implications of physical climate risk to financial institutions is a complex challenge. The ClimINVEST initiative aims to facilitate improved financial decision-making in the face of climate change by offering tailored indicators, tools and maps for financial institutions. As part of the project, the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE) has undertaken a useful review of existing tools and approaches, that can assist financial actors assessing their own physical climate risks.  

Physical climate impacts can increase risk for the financial sector and the economy in several ways. However, the translation from physical risk to financial impacts is not always straightforward. As noted in I4CE’s review, very few service providers have developed approaches to analyse how climate risks can impact counterparties’ financial statements (e.g. in their balance sheets and profit and loss calculations) and how they affect the operation of financial activities. The review therefore focusses on assessing the functions, target uses and outputs of the tools currently available in the market, including those developed by Acclimatise and other service providers. The review summarises several key differences.

Firstly, the target use and target users for each approach differ: from those designed to be used as pre-screening tools by project managers to those carrying more comprehensive assessments target to risk managers. Similarly, the level of analysis also varies, from tools focusing on risks at the project level, to those operating at counterparties level, upstream/downstream value chains, on sovereign counterparties; or even incorporating the larger socio-economic environment. Equally, the methodologies incorporated in the tools can tackle the assessment of different types of impacts, with some focusing only on economic impacts and others also incorporating an assessment of financial implications.

Another important difference found between the tools is their use of climate change scenarios, and the sources of information these scenarios build on. Some of the tools have built their scenarios using trend analysis and thus are based on past and observed weather records. Contrastingly, other tools use an exploratory approach, based on either IPCC data or outputs from Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs). Generally, the time horizon chosen determines the type of climate scenario used: It is common, for example, to find the use of trend analysis on short term horizons, whilst long term analyses tend to be more exploratory in nature.

The tools reviewed in the report also differ in their mechanisms to deal with uncertainty. In some cases, the approaches developed have dealt with uncertainty by considering the worst-case future climate scenario (a conservative approach); others have used multi-model approaches for climate projections. In the case of the Acclimatise Aware tool, the Global Climate Model agreement was used as indicator for uncertainty; this indicator is then integrated when weighting the exposure to location- specific climate hazard data.

Output formats provided by the different tools and approaches were also found to be very diverse, ranging from qualitative analysis using scoring systems, to quantitative assessments providing financial estimates. Results are also aggregated differently by each instrument: they can be aggregated according, to scenario, type of impact, time horizon, counterparty, or hazard type.

Key conclusions and remarks

Whilst service providers are developing sophisticated methodologies to help financial actors assess physical climate risks, they still face barriers to exploit their full potential. Data availability remains an important challenge, especially access to data on corporate counterparties. Information is still needed at macro and sectoral scales in order to better characterise financial implications caused by changing business environments; but it is also needed at the counterparty or asset scale in order to define exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity to a diverse range of climate impacts.

There is no “one-size-fits all” approach, and financial actors will have to choose what type of tool is better suited to their assessments needs and which can be better integrated into their existing risk management approaches. Existing tools can nonetheless be further refined to better fit user needs and new approaches can also be developed to match emerging assessment and disclosure demands. Close collaboration between financial actors and service providers will be a key factor determining the successful refinement and application of tools and approaches. Acclimatise, will continue to work closely with financial institutions in order to keep advancing the development of suitable tools and approaches able to support financial actors identifying and dealing with physical climate risks.


Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

PRA and FCA establish a joint Climate Financial Risk Forum

PRA and FCA establish a joint Climate Financial Risk Forum

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) of the Bank of England have established the Climate Financial Risk Forum (CFRF) in early March 2019. The Forum is comprised of firms from across the financial system. The fill list of 17 current members is as follows:

  • Banks: BNP Paribas; HSBC; JP Morgan; RBS; Yorkshire Building Society
  • Insurers: Aviva; Legal & General; Lloyd’s of London; RSA Insurance Group; Zurich
  • Asset Managers: Blackrock; Hermes; Invesco; Schroders; Standard Life Aberdeen
  • Others: Greening Finance Initiative; London Stock Exchange Group

Four working groups have been set up, which will develop guidance in each of the following areas: risk management, scenario analysis, disclosure, and innovation. Working groups will allow wider membership, including academics and other members of industry, in order to allow them to draw on expertise as necessary.  

Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, explained the reasoning behind the establishment of the CFRF during his 21st March speech at the European Commission High-Level Conference. The Prudential regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) established the Forum as it recognised the need for capacity building within the finance industry and need to develop best practices.

Regulators understand that despite the progress of firms toward climate-related risk management, there is still work to do with regards to their strategic approach to minimise these risks, including scenario analysis. The Forum aims to allow progress in this area by “developing practical tools and approaches to address climate-related financial risks,” according to a statement to the press. The Forum will meet three times per year and will report back to executives of both the PRA and FCA. Each of the four working groups will be chaired by a member of the Forum and will meet more frequently than the CFRF, reporting back at each CFRF meeting.


Photo by Colton Jones on Unsplash

Bank of England Governor indicates new climate risk rules are imminent

Bank of England Governor indicates new climate risk rules are imminent

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor

On 21st March, 2019, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney gave a speech at the European Commission High-Level Conference in Brussels, where he indicated that new rules from the UK’s financial regulators on climate risk are imminent.

Carney’s speech gives several indications as to the content of the upcoming PRA supervisory statement (SS) on banks’ and insurers’ approaches to managing the financial risks from climate change. The PRA’s SS will apply to banks, insurers and investment firms and will set out the PRA’s expectations regarding firms’ approaches to managing the financial risks from climate change, including with respect to: 

  • Governance, where firms will be expected to embed fully the consideration of climate risks into governance frameworks, including at board level, and assign responsibility for oversight of these risks to specific senior role holders;
  • Risk management, where firms will need to consider climate change in line with their board-approved risk appetites;
  • The regular use of scenario analysis to test strategic resilience; and
  • Developing and maintaining an appropriate disclosure of climate risks.

There have been important advances in both the supply and demand for climate reporting following the release of the final TCFD recommendations in 2017; support from both finance actors and companies has been resounding. Yet actual action on disclosure is lacking. According to Carney, financial implications are often not yet disclosed, and where they are, they are made in multiple reports making comparisons harder. Disclosures also vary considerably by industry and region.

Carney set out a vision for climate disclosure and made the case for regulatory action relating to it, stating that “in the future, disclosure will move into the mainstream, and it is reasonable to expect that more authorities will mandate it.” The role of financial regulators was delineated as well, suggesting that it is not their role to drive the transition to a low-carbon and resilient economy. Instead, financial regulators such as the PRA need to smooth the flow of investment into green technologies and encourage firms to plan over longer time horizons than normal; they ultimately operate within the climate policy frameworks that governments set.

A call was made for financial institutions to take a more strategic approach to climate, which Carney suggested requires scenario analysis; firms will need to consider scenario analysis as part of their assessments of the impact of climate risks on their balance sheet and broader business strategy. Specifically, Carney suggested scenarios should be:

  • Comprehensive, rigorous and challenging;
  • Transparent: the assumptions and methodologies in the models – such as the assumed global temperature rise, the energy mix, or whether the transition happens smoothly or abruptly – should allow for comparisons and external challenge; and  
  • Scenarios should be implemented consistently across the business, linking identification of risks and opportunities to both strategy and disclosure.

Scenario developments will be assisted by the PRA and FCA joint Climate Financial Risk Forum, which will work with industry to review tools and metrics, for the publication of reference scenarios and standard assumptions.

Finally, Carney explains that supervisors will require climate-related stress testing that links ‘high-level data-driven narratives on the evolution of physical and transition risks to quantitative metrics to measure the impact on the financial system.’ In conducting these stress tests, financial institutions would aim to:

  • Consider whether, across the financial system, financing flows are consistent with an orderly transition to the climate outcome set out in the Paris agreement. These long-term scenarios can facilitate discussions between firms and their clients about possible risks across different sectors and geographies; and
  • Consider whether the financial system would be resilient to shorter-term shocks – including a climate “Minsky moment” when climate risks materialise suddenly. 

The Bank of England will also work closely with colleagues in the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) to develop a small number of high-level scenarios. Following the issuance of the draft supervisory statement and subsequent consultation in October 2018-January 2019, the final supervisory statement will be released in mid-April 2019.


Cover photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash.