US Central Bank Warns on Climate, as Voters Demand Action

November 9, 2020

Reuters:

The U.S. Federal Reserve for the first time called out climate change among risks enumerated in its biannual financial stability report, and warned about the potential for abrupt changes in asset values in response to a warming planet.

“Acute hazards, such as storms, floods, or wildfires, may cause investors to update their perceptions of the value of real or financial assets suddenly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in comments attached to the report, released Monday.

“Chronic hazards, such as slow increases in mean temperatures or sea levels, or a gradual change in investor sentiment about those risks, introduce the possibility of abrupt tipping points or significant swings in sentiment,” Brainard said.

Such abrupt price changes from climate-related disasters could also create difficult-to-predict knock-on effects through financial markets, the report said, particularly because not enough is understood, or disclosed, about the true extent of exposures to climate risks.

“Increased transparency through improved measurement and more standardized disclosures will be crucial,” Brainard said. “It is vitally important to move from the recognition that climate change poses significant financial stability risks to the stage where the quantitative implications of those risks are appropriately assessed and addressed.”

Monday’s report comes just days after Joe Biden won the U.S. presidential election against President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the risks of climate change. Biden has promised to put fighting climate change back on the U.S. policy agenda.

Bloomberg:

Joe Biden will take office with something no U.S. president has had before: robust popular support for climate action, borne out in polling data and election results from a hard-fought campaign.

“His mandate to go all in on climate change and clean energy could not be more clear,” said Edward Maibach, director of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.

Global warming was on the ballot, to a surprising degree. Biden promised to embrace international climate diplomacy and spend more than $2 trillion backing clean energy and green jobs.

That created a stark contrast with President Donald Trump’s record of supporting the coal industry, rolling back environmental regulations and withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. A divide over science and fossil fuel came up in presidential debates and campaign ads.

n the end, Biden won more votes than any other candidate in U.S. history. Final results are still being tabulated, but so far his margin of victory over Trump in the popular vote is around 4 million. That doesn’t mean Biden will be able to to make good on his climate priorities, many of which could be thwarted by Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Control of the chamber will be decided by two contests in Georgia, to be decided in January.

In public remarks on Friday night, while results from key battleground states put the former vice president on the cusp of victory, Biden described the vote as a greenlight for his agenda. “They’ve given us a clear mandate for actions on Covid, the economy, climate change, systematic racism,” he said.

Exit polls appear to show that his messages on climate broke through with voters. Morning Consult found that 74% of Biden voters described climate change as “very important” to their vote, a sign that lack of action would potentially affect the new president’s base. Another exit poll by Fox News and the Associated Press determined that 67% of voters—not just those who cast ballots for Biden—supported “increasing government spending on green and renewable energy.”

4 Responses to “US Central Bank Warns on Climate, as Voters Demand Action”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    ““It is vitally important to move from the recognition that climate change poses significant financial stability risks to the stage where the quantitative implications of those risks are appropriately assessed and addressed.””

    One would have thought that would have been vitally important 40 years ago. What the hell is wrong with these people that they don’t even have the sense to look out for their own businesses?

  2. doldrom Says:

    We’ll see what happens to the agenda, but claims to clear mandates and the ‘people have spoken’ are virtually always demagoguery and seldom signals that open public debate and an appeal to reason is about to ensue. Most clear mandates are not the subject of special interests or partisanship.

  3. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Paradoxically, local concerns about the nth tropical storm or wildfire threat can blind people to the awareness of other climate-related problems. I had to point out to family in Louisiana that during hurricane-rich September of 2017, San Francisco hit 106°F.

  4. J4Zonian Says:

    “That doesn’t mean Biden will be able to to make good on his climate priorities, many of which could be thwarted by Republicans in the U.S. Senate.”

    Biden’s climate priorities are driven by denial of the direness of the crisis, as are the priorities of most people in the US. We won’t take radical enough actions to make a difference in the survival of civilization until people understand we have to, and we’re a long way from having even a significant minority who do. Using conventional political means to reach large enough numbers to change our direction enough to matter, is unlikely in the time we have to save civilization and millions of species. Increasing the squad by 2 or 3 members every 2 years, even if we could do that consistently, will be too slow. The Senate, costing more money, will take even longer. If there’s an alternative to a peaceful revolution that would work, I’d love to hear about it.


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