The Financial System & Climate Change: A Regulatory Imperative

There is a growing consensus among policymakers across the globe that climate change poses significant risks to the safety and stability of the financial system. The climate crisis is driving more frequent and severe extreme weather events, as well as long-term environmental shifts such as sea-level rise. These physical effects can reduce economic activity, disrupt supply chains, damage physical property, and ultimately decrease the value of a range of financial assets. In addition, the ongoing and necessary transition to a low-carbon economy could trigger large-scale losses for financial firms’ misplaced bets on fossil fuel-reliant companies. Banks, insurance companies, investment funds, and other financial institutions are all vulnerable to climate-related losses through the companies and assets they finance or insure.

Given the damage that climate change could inflict on the financial system and broader economy, foreign central banks and regulators have begun to integrate climate risk into their financial regulatory frameworks. Over the past year, momentum has started to build domestically, and the issue should be a top priority for U.S. regulators in the new year. Safeguarding the financial system against climate-related risks would protect both businesses and households, which rely on a stable financial system to thrive. It would also support economic and environmental justice, as communities of color are disproportionately harmed by both climate change and financial crises.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a conversation with federal and state policymakers on addressing climate risk through financial regulation.

We would love to hear your questions. Please submit any questions you have for our distinguished panel via email at CAPeventquestions@americanprogress.org or on Twitter using #FinanceXClimate.

Opening remarks:
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Panelists:
Rostin Behnam, Commissioner, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Allison Herren Lee, Commissioner, Securities and Exchange Commission
Martin J. Gruenberg, Director, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Linda A. Lacewell, Superintendent, New York State Department of Financial Services

Moderator:
Andres Vinelli, Vice President for Economic Policy, Center for American Progress

Keynote and conversation:
Lael Brainard, Governor, Federal Reserve Board
John Podesta, Founder, Center for American Progress

Concluding remarks:
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs