I was reading the BBC website last week (like I normally do each day) when I happened upon this article on Green Finance being a big opportunity. One of the points the author first makes is that capital flows from one advanced country to another, growing economy, with which I can agree. There is emerging so-called “Green Bonds”. These bonds are being used to finance projects which are trying to find renewable energy sources or reduce carbon emissions. The article warns that, when the Green Bonds actually do become more popular, it may be too late, and the projects will not be able to reverse the effects of climate change (the man interviewed in the article, the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, said that Green Bonds only represent 1% of global financial institutions, so growth is going to take a while). What’s stranger, though, is that he makes the comment that they shouldn’t grow too fast, that it could “materially damage financial stability.” I take this to mean that, even though these countries really need to cut their carbon emissions, the change to renewable sources may be too costly. The cost of this change could be in researching how to better implement these new sources of energy (or other renewable resources), or the cost could also be in time, as setting up these sources and integrating them into a manufacturer’s processes will take time. And machines the size of whole countries move slowly.
The article also talks about Carney urging businesses to disclose the risks that climate change pose to their businesses. This part makes me ask: how does one exactly do that? While a business can chart the rising cost of fossil fuels (due to the rising expense of drilling and refining oil), how does one exactly measure the impact of smog or carbon emissions? It’s true that there’s a health risk to smog, and green house gases are leading to higher sea levels. But how does this impact business? Could they show how the change in weather affects their business? One might be able to calculate the damage severe weather poses to their factories, e.g. flood damage, hail damage, and hurricane damage. Another way could be to simulate how smog affects the company’s workers in a dirty city. But will the numbers they calculate be close to reality? Or will they have to give a qualitative answer to the problem? From what I’ve read, some organizations and governments have been able to calculate how much climate can cost.
In any case, climate change is going to be very expensive for businesses in the future, and it’s about time we started investing in a plan to mitigate this disaster that’s waiting to happen.