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G20 task force wants companies to come clean on climate risk
[LONDON] Companies will be asked to disclose how they manage the risks to their business from climate change and greenhouse gas emission cuts by a global task force set up to try to prevent market shocks from the warming of the planet.
Although the measures recommended by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) are voluntary, some of its members argue they should become mandatory.
"Only then will climate risk become integral to corporate governance and how we all do business," Mark Wilson, chief executive of insurance firm Aviva Plc, said in a statement.
The TCFD was called for by the Group of 20 economies and set up by the G20's Financial Stability Board (FSB).
It recommended on Wednesday that companies disclose how they identify, assess and manage climate risks and opportunities and how risks in the short, medium and long-term impact their business, strategy and financial planning.
They should also describe the potential impact of limiting global temperature rise to two degrees celsius on their business, and how greenhouse gas emission cuts will impact their bottom line.
"The disclosure recommendations will give financial markets the information they need to manage risks and seize opportunities stemming from climate change," Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who chairs the FSB, said.
Concerns among the financial community are growing that assets are being mispriced because the full extent of climate risk is not being factored in, threatening market stability.
According to Barclays, the fossil fuel industry could lose US$34 trillion in revenues by 2040 as a global deal to limit temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius reduces demand for oil, coal and gas, turning reserves into stranded assets.
There are also calls for increased company transparency.
US oil company Exxon Mobil Corp is currently being investigated in the United States on whether it misled investors and the public about climate risks.
The TCFD wants all financial and non-financial organisations with public debt or equity such as asset managers, insurance companies, endowments and foundations to implement its recommendations.
It has 32 members from large banks, insurance companies, asset management companies, pension funds, credit rating agencies and accounting and consulting firms.
A 60-day public consultation will run until Feb 12, 2017 to get feedback on the recommendations.