Financial regulators attempt to align rules on climate risks

Global regulators published a blueprint on Wednesday to give a “sense of direction” to proliferating initiatives for tackling climate-related financial risks before they fragment markets.

The Financial Stability Board (FSB), which coordinates financial rules for the G20 group of nations, said its “roadmap” seeks to coordinate approaches to disclosures by companies and plug gaps in the data needed to spot financial stability “vulnerabilities” and develop tools to address them.

The roadmap attempts to align rules still in the planning stage between now and 2023 to avoid more divergences between various measures for the same activity.

A patchwork of disclosure methods have prompted a global regulatory initiative to set up an International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to give cross-border investors consistent information.

“The time has come to take this to the next level and ensure that we avoid harmful market fragmentation,” said Randal Quarles, the U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair who also chairs the FSB.

It was important to guard against inconsistent requirements that later on will be very hard to correct, he said.

Differences in company disclosure approaches are likely to remain, despite pleas from international investors.

The EU, an FSB member, is requiring companies to say not only how climate change will affect their performance but also how companies themselves impact the environment, a step too far for many countries.

The bloc set out further measures this week that could break new ground in measuring risks from climate change.

“This will ensure the European Union remains the global leader in sustainable finance and this will help bring the rest of the world with us,” the EU’s financial services chief Mairead McGuinness said.

The FSB is asking G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Italy this week to back the roadmap so that all financial risk decisions appropriately take account of climate change. It will report to the G20 each year on progress in coordinating climate-related risks.