G20 Foundation Publications Australia 2014 - Page 62

62 C L I M AT E C H A N G E & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y C L I M AT E C H A N G E & S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y G20 and greening global finance This year’s G20 annual meeting, which will take place in Brisbane, Australia, in late November, will headline the commitment to raise the G20’s economic growth rate by 2 percentage points above its current trajectory over the next five years. It will also touch on other key topics, from energy to anti-corruption and tax, to infrastructure and international development. The financial crisis of 2008 was the catalyst that took the G20 to centre stage globally. Effectively providing a platform for orchestrating a coordinated short-term response to the crisis, it helped to overcome the dangers of nationally-focused policy actions that otherwise could have led to protectionism and, ultimately, the conditions for a damaging fragmentation of the global economy. At the same time, the G20’s creation of the Financial Stability Board, which provides a mechanism for connecting the world’s leading central banks to the G20 as an international policy process, has provided a longer-term vehicle to strengthen the governance of the international financial system. Our collective environmental security is also a matter of finance. Most obvious is the public finance needed to safeguard our environmental commons—from the water we drink and the air we breathe to the stewardship of vulnerable biodiversity essential to our circular economy. Climate is another case in point, with the ongoing international negotiations placing considerable emphasis on the question of how much developed countries will finance developing countries’ mitigation efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and the costs of adaptation to climate change. Yet public finance is just one part of the nexus between money and the environment. Private finance, and specifically the use of some US$273 trillion of private capital worldwide, has considerable implications for the environment. Investment in clean technology such as renewable energy makes a difference to environmental outcomes. Indeed, the G20’s focus this year on the challenge of financing long-term infrastructure needs of an estimated US$5 trillion annually worldwide has profound environmental dimensions. Building energy efficient and climate resilient cities will be a defining feature of their future utility. Likewise, investing in agricultural potential of existing innovations. Its work is guided by an Advisory Council made up of financial regulators, central bankers and leaders from key private and international financial institutions. Achim Steiner UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNEP systems that can remain productive in the face of a changing climate will be the basis for securing adequate, affordable, healthy food for tomorrow’s growing global population. The welcome launch of a new global infrastructure initiative at the recent meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bankers in Cairns, Australia, is an opportunity to ensure that such a bold initiative would minimize pollutants and deliver climate resilient infrastructure. Environment is not just a matter for environmental ministers and policies. Growing numbers of financial regulators and central bankers are responding to the simple facts that the working of the financial system has environmental impacts, and that the state of the natural environment impacts the health and—ultimately— the stability of the financial system. Brazil’s central bank has a host of environmental regulations, and the China Banking Regulatory Commission’s Green Credit Guidelines provide increasingly stringent directions regarding environmental risk management. Whilst most central banks today remain ambivalent that climate represents a systemic risk to the financial system, the Bank of England has recently commenced a review of the relationship between insurance regulation and climate change. Governor Mark Carney signalled his growing conviction that the future of the financial system and our management of climate are closely interwoven at the recent IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting in Washington DC in declaring that the "vast majority of [fossil fuel] reserves are unburnable", and by implication of less value than markets currently think, if global temperature increases are to be contained to two degrees as recommended by the world's leading scientists. The USA’s Securities and Exchange Commission provides guidance to investors in assessing and reporting on climate risks. Indeed, the UNCTD-hosted Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative currently has 14 stock exchange members, including London and New York, all of which are advancing new sustainability-focused disclosure requirements and, in some cases, indexes. These and many other examples have surfaced during the initial phases of the Inquiry into Design Options for a Sustainable Financial System, established by the United Nations Environment Programme in early 2014. The Inquiry, due to run for two years, is exploring which rules governing today’s financial system, including financial and monetary policies, financial regulation and private standards such as credit ratings and accounting standards, could be adjusted to ensure that lending and investment decisions take greater account of environmental and also social outcomes. 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