Bank of Canada governor urges Canadian firms to step up urgency on climate risks

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem Image: Bank of Canada

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem called on the country’s banks and businesses to act more quickly on disclosing their exposure to the risks posed by global warming.

In remarks on a panel organized by the Public Policy Forum, Macklem said it’s a competitive imperative for the country to do a better job at accelerating capital flows to areas that reduce climate risks and minimize potential destabilization from the transition to a low-carbon economy. The governor didn’t comment on current monetary policy.

“Information and disclosure are essential for the financial system to be able to do its job,” Macklem said in prepared remarks via video conference. “Companies need to assess, price and manage their climate risks, and they need to disclose these risks for markets to function well.”

Macklem’s speech comes amid a heightened push in the financial industry to address climate change. Global banks have rolled out climate-action plans this year, jockeying for position in the sustainable finance business and trying to curry favor with environmental-minded customers.

The governor highlighted the recent surge in environmental, social and governance bonds, saying it’s crucial for Canadian companies to be able to take advantage of that funding. He also said the country’s financial system, which weathered the global financial crisis and the challenges posed so far by the COVID-19 pandemic, must remain equally resilient in the face of climate change.

On Monday, the Bank of Canada announced a joint pilot project with the country’s banking regulator, OSFI, to help businesses explore how they may be exposed to climate-related risks. This would help the financial institutions better understand their exposures to transition risks and increase their ability to disclose them.

“We need to position Canada to seize the climate-smart opportunities that consumers, workers and investors are looking for,” Macklem said. “But to mitigate the threat and capitalize on the opportunity, we all need to mobilize. And we need to do it quickly.”

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