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Jan 05, 2023

WWF calls on central banks, financial regulators and supervisors to step up on climate targets

Disclosure of non-achieved E&S targets ‘should be mandatory’ under TCFD and TNFD frameworks

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called on central banks, financial regulators and financial supervisors to scale up their efforts in transitioning to a net-zero economy.

The global conservation organization’s new Sustainable Financial Regulations and Central Bank Activities 2022 report sets out 13 recommendations as ‘minimum requirements’ for those institutions, covering transition plans to a low-carbon economy, E&S expectations and mandatory disclosure of climate risks, among others.

The report monitors progress on sustainable financial regulations and central bank activities in 44 global jurisdictions, which represent more than 88 percent of the global GDP and 72 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Regulations almost doubled

The report finds 62 percent of banking jurisdictions issued sustainable banking regulations or supervisory expectations in 2022, almost doubling from 35 percent in 2021. Another 62 percent of insurance jurisdictions, surveyed for the first time in 2022, issued sustainable banking regulations or supervisory expectations.

WWF calls on central banks, financial regulators and supervisors to step up on climate targets

At a strategy level, 84 percent of all assessed jurisdictions are found to be fully or partially integrating climate considerations into financial institutions’ business and risk strategies. 

As for environmental and social disclosures, on average, 63 percent of banking and insurance supervisors surveyed say they include at least a partial E&S disclosure in their annual report.

But reporting on sustainability, environment-related strategies and roadmaps might not be enough, warns WWF. ‘Credible, ambitious mandatory transition plans are crucial to accelerating climate mitigation,’ says the report. 

Worrying gaps 

The study highlights a number of areas where central banks, supervisors and insurers are lagging behind. Those include gaps in the integration of nature-related risks, climate-targets setting, E&S disclosure in annual reports, data and IT infrastructure and climate-related risks management, among others. 

Research on banking supervisory expectations showcases a lack of E&S considerations in banks’ annual reports. The research finds that while 70 percent of all surveyed countries include at least a partial expectation around E&S matters, there is very limited disclosure around non-achieved targets. 

WWF calls on central banks, financial regulators and supervisors to step up on climate targets

WWF urges disclosure of non-achieved E&S objectives to be made mandatory by international frameworks such as the TCFD and the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures. 

Mandatory disclosure, notes the report, would allow companies to measure reality versus expectations and realign to set strategies or adopt new ones. 

The report claims the financial sector is not joined up with the objectives set by the Paris Agreement, with treaty-aligned climate targets failing to be set and met mostly across all jurisdictions. 

‘Without excuses or delays’

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Publish transition plans to a low-carbon, nature-positive economy
  • Integrate nature-related risks and opportunities
  • Set clear and minimum supervisory E&S expectations and reflect them in supervisory requirements
  • Promote robust and mandatory disclosure of climate- and nature-related risks and opportunities
  • Set targets and taxonomy alignment.

Dr Adam Ng, lead report author, says: ‘Along with governments and civil society, financial regulators, supervisors and central banks need to deliver an immediate, wide-ranging impact in reversing biodiversity loss without excuses or delays.’