On the Role of Central Banks in Enhancing Green Finance

Policy Lever: Directing Finance Through Policy

Policy directed finance approaches introduce requirements or prohibitions that shift capital allocation. Such measures in effect introduce new performance criteria into financial decision-making, which might reduce or increase risk-adjusted returns. The Inquiry found that measures that change the legal requirements facing financial institutions are perhaps the most contentious, but are also widely used.

Examples

Examples in practice include:
  • Lender and other liabilities: legal liability regimes for lenders, fiduciaries and insurers (and responses in terms of due diligence for environmental risk).
  • Capital requirements: adjustments to capital ratios to enable lending towards critical sectors (e.g. for SMEs, green assets).
  • Priority sector lending: integration of environmental and social factors into priority lending programmes.
  • Prohibitions: restrictionson financial transactions due to excessive societal costs e.g. lending to illegal deforestation (Brazil) and pollution intensive industrial plants (China).
  • Directed service provision: requirements that financial institutions provide access to particular financial services such as basic bank accounts and insurance.
  • Mandatory purchase requirements: mandatory requirements for purchase of key financial services (such as insurance) that are essential for system resilience in the face of environmental stress.

Impacts

Measures such as priority lending and strengthened environmental liability have a strong potential for driving change, but need careful design and market preparation to avoid unintended consequences.    

Inquiry Publications

  • On the Role of Central Banks in Enhancing Green Finance

    Date: 20-Feb-2017

    The paper examines the role of central banks in ‘greening’ financial systems. Given the enormous investments needed to bring about a green transformation, the financial sector will have to play a central role in allocating resources towards a sustainable and green economy – and stop financing activities that harm the environment. Against this backdrop, the

  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Finance

    Date: 13-Jun-2016

    Infrastructure is often referred to as the backbone of the global economy and plays a fundamental role in societies by enhancing the quality of life and increasing productivity. In addition to its effects on society and the economy, infrastructure can have significant impacts on the environment, depending on the choice of infrastructure. Approximately 75% of

  • Financing the Future

    Date: 06-Feb-2017

    Italy’s Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, in partnership with UN Environment, launched the National Dialogue on Sustainable Finance in February 2016 to identify practical market and policy options to mobilize Italy’s financial system for sustainable development and climate action. The conclusions of the paper are: Italy faces a strategic opportunity to harness its financial

  • Fintech and Sustainable Development – Assessing the Implications

    Date: 14-Dec-2016

    The report, a companion to the second edition of “The Financial System We Need”, assesses how the financial system’s core functions are likely to be disrupted by financial technology (“fintech”) innovations and how they could help – or hinder – efforts to align financing with sustainable development. It considers ways to: Unlock greater financial inclusion by

  • The Role of Policy-Driven Institutions

    Date: 24-Aug-2015

    A variety of interventions can be used to develop national financial systems and provide local access to affordable, long-term finance. This paper considers four key categories of actions: voluntary action; priority sector lending; regulatory or financial incentives as well as direct lending by policy-driven financial institutions. It particularly focuses on the role of policy-driven institutions such

  • China Green Finance Task Force Report: Green Insurance

    Date: 02-Apr-2015

    The rapid and continuous increase of environmental incidents in China in recent years has led to severe impacts on its sustainable social and economic development and public health. This paper sets out the case for green insurance as a market-based risk management mechanism which could play a proactive role in preventing and transferring environmental pollution risks and

  • Lessons from Inclusive Banking Experiments in South Africa and Kenya

    Date: 23-Aug-2015

    This paper examines the experience of inclusive banking experiments in South Africa and Kenya. The Kenyan example revolves around the development of mobile money through market led innovation alongside evolutions in the legislative and regulatory process. In South Africa a different approach was taken, with the development of the multi-sector Financial Sector Charter and a National Bank Account (‘Mzansi’) Hawkins

  • China Green Finance Task Force Report: Lender Liability

    Date: 02-Apr-2015

    In the event of a project causing environmental damage, in many countries its commercial lenders can also face legal liabilities. This forces lenders to take environmental impact into consideration in making investment and financing decisions. This paper makes the case for establishing environmental legal liabilities for commercial banks in China and highlights steps to take to implement this: Revise

  • Lenders and Investors Environmental Liability

    Date: 19-Apr-2016

    This working paper presents an overview of Lender Environmental Liability (LEL) and Investor Environmental Liability (IEL) regimes and issues. Environmental harm and degradation is often irreparable. Therefore, our assumption is that precaution is the main objective of any international and domestic environmental legal regime. The paper explores the conditions under which LEL/IEL can be effective

  • Delivering The Green Economy Through Financial Policy

    Date: 07-May-2014

    This working paper was produced for the early stage of the Inquiry to provide an inital overview of the areas where the financial sector can have an impact on moving the green economy forward and the extent to which green financial policy is already actively being practiced. The paper is focused on financial regulation and the instruments of financial policy that

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