Climate Change and prudential policy

Central Banks’ objective of maintaining price stability, enables climate protection goals. For example, low inflation rates will allow households and firms to detect price signals from climate policy and adjust thus their behaviour. Putting the right price tag on greenhouse gas emissions is arguably the most powerful weapon  in the fight against climate change.

Central Banks should not slip into the role of a climate policy actor as they have different segregation of responsibilities. Unlike monetary policy, climate policy changes the distribution of resources and income distinctly and permanently. Democratic processes and direct political accountability are important when making such decisions. Central Banks should guarantee independence to safeguard price stability objective.

A clash of objectives could arise as well if, say, the Central Bank attempted to use its monetary policy asset purchase programmes  to pursue environmental policy objectives, as these programmes  need to be scaled back as soon as warranted  to ensure price stability. Ultimately, monetary policy is not a structural policy instrument: it is cyclical in nature, balancing each other out over the long run through  the interplay of monetary policy loosening and tightening.

However, Central Banks can step up their game to protect the climate without running the risk of overstretching their mandate of preserving price stability. As climate change affect firms and lenders, Central Banks need to ensure that climate-related financial risks are appropriately taken into account as part of risk management.

So, from a monetary policy, perspective, Central Banks are within their rights to request better information. The Eurosystem should consider purchasing or accepting as collateral only those securities whose issuers meet certain climate-related reporting requirements. Hence, the importance of the ratings of agencies to adequately and transparently reflect climate-related financial risks.

Other further measure may be to limit the maturities or the volume of securities from certain issuers in the monetary policy portfolio, if required to contain financial risk.

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