Bank of England governor Mark Carney has threatened environmentally inactive companies with bankruptcy in his latest push to tackle the “climate emergency.”
The global transition needed to address the climate crisis could result in an “abrupt financial collapse,” Mr. Carney told the UK-based Guardian newspaper, adding that delays in curbing emissions only exacerbate the risk of collapse.
Mr Carney, famous for his pre-referendum alarmism over the consequences of a Brexit vote, said that investors would “punish” companies that fail to take climate change seriously.
Using both a carrot and a stick, Mr. Carney suggested financial rewards for those companies that effectively address climate change.
While the Bank of England has said that a failure to address the climate emergency could result in losses exceeding $20 trillion of assets, Carney suggested that those working to end greenhouse gas emissions could make “great fortunes” and the UK economy in particular stood to benefit enormously, the Guardian reported.
“Certainly the UK financial system is one of the most sophisticated at managing this risk,” he said. “The UK can extend that lead, for the good of the UK, for the good of the world.”
“A number of the industrial solutions draw on the strengths of UK innovation, from the use of artificial intelligence in energy systems through to potentially advanced materials like graphene. There is a big upside for the UK economy,” he added.
Described by Politico as an “eco-warrior”, Mr Carney, a Canadian, produced a 2015 report together with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg advising all listed companies to disclose any risk they face from climate change in their annual financial filings.
The report was drafted by the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TFCD), set up by Carney.
Much of the potential gains and losses companies face will be dictated by the actions of attentive investors, Carney proposed, since ethically engaged investors will want to back winners.
“There will be industries, sectors and firms that do very well during this process because they will be part of the solution,” he said. “But there will also be ones that lag behind and they will be punished.”
Carney pointed to U.S. coal companies as an example, saying they had already lost 90 percent of their value, but added that banks were also at risk.
“Just like in any other major structural change, those banks overexposed to the sunset sectors will suffer accordingly,” he said.
“The question is whether the transition is smooth or is it something that is delayed and then happens very abruptly. That is an open question,” Carney said. “The longer the adjustment is delayed in the real economy, the greater the risk that there is a sharp adjustment.”
The Guardian has taken a proactive role in advocating activism against climate change. In a note to readers Sunday, the newspaper said that as the crisis in our natural world escalates, “we refuse to turn away from the climate catastrophe and species extinction.”
“For The Guardian, reporting on the environment is a priority,” the note reads. “We give reporting on climate, nature and pollution the prominence it deserves, stories which often go unreported by others in the media.”
“At this pivotal time for our species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on scientific facts, not political prejudice or business interests,” it said.