G20 central banks ranked on climate action

March 31, 2021|Written by Graham Caswell

A groundbreaking study has ranked the G20 central banks and financial supervisors on their responses to the climate crisis.

The Green Central Banking Scorecard – produced by research and advocacy group Positive Money and featured on this website – brings accountability and transparency to powerful financial and regulatory actors, assessing their climate policies and actions.

The scorecard finds that most monetary and financial authorities are failing to match their words on climate change with actions. All of those analysed have shied away from policies that restrict or provide disincentives for financial flows to high-emission and environmentally harmful activities.

The scorecard reviews the policies and initiatives of an ideal green central bank across four categories: research and advocacy; monetary policy; financial policy; and leading by example. G20 central banks and supervisors are compared to this ideal using a ranking system based on a literature review, expert consultation, and input from central bankers and financial supervisors themselves.

Because financial supervision in many jurisdictions is spread across several authorities, the report focuses on countries rather than on institutions. However, this is the first time that major central banks and supervisors have been systematically compared on their climate-related policies and actions.

China achieved the highest rank for its green monetary and financial policies, although its total score of 50 out of 130 amounts only to a mediocre C grade. China’s lead is closely followed by Brazil and France in second and third place, but only six countries scored higher than a D grade.

The United States received a D- grade and two countries, Argentina and Saudi Arabia, received F for scoring zero. While most institutions did well in research and advocacy, poor scores in other categories show that this has not translated into concrete action. Notably, not one of the G20 countries’ central banks or supervisors has implemented a single high-impact green policy.

According to scorecard author David Barnes, the results make it clear that central banks and supervisors are only beginning to address the climate emergency and the substantial risks it poses.

“The 2008 crash showed financial markets cannot be left to self-regulate in the face of systemic risk, but by failing to confront the climate crisis we are repeating the same mistakes on an even bigger scale. Protecting environmental stability is a prerequisite for maintaining monetary and financial stability. If central banks are to fulfil their core mandates and support governments’ climate targets, they must step up action to clamp down on dirty financial flows,” said Barnes.

Already widely publicised, including by central banks, the scorecard will be updated annually to track central banks and financial supervisors as they respond to the challenges presented by the climate crisis.

This page was last updated April 23, 2021

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