China central bank calls for green finance regulation to be strengthened

China central bank calls for green finance regulation to be strengthened
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past the headquarters of Chinese central bank People’s Bank of China (PBOC), April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

By Selena Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s central bank on Saturday warned that climate change and a global move to a low-carbon economy posed risks for domestic financial institutions and said stronger regulation was required.

“Climate change and low-carbon transformation will have a major impact on the wealth pattern and the asset management industry,” Xuan Changneng, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, told the Shanghai Bund Summit via video link.

Loans to high-carbon industries account for a relatively high proportion of financial institutions’ assets in China, he said.

Xuan added that an accelerated withdrawal or delayed exit from high-carbon sectors would result in heightened financial risks.

“Therefore, (we) should strengthen financial regulations, conduct stress tests and other means to guide financial institutions to continuously improve their green financial capabilities in accordance with the carbon peak and carbon neutral timetable,” he said.

China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, aims to cut its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product, or carbon intensity, by more than 65% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Xuan said globally the approach varies from voluntary participation to mandatory regulation and called on regulatory bodies to gradually implement mandatory, comprehensive and quantitative climate disclosure requirements.

Xuan also warned of the reputational damage which financial institutions can suffer if they are suspected of overstating their green credentials citing the example of German asset management firm DWS Group.

A German consumer group in October sued DWS for allegedly misrepresenting a fund’s green credentials in marketing materials. DWS has repeatedly denied that it misled investors and rejects the consumer group’s allegations.

Source: Reuters