There is an important synergy emerging in principle between the London Accord, the World Bank, Central Banks and the Prince of Wales’ Rainforests Project. We recently learned that the World Bank is already working with the Rainforests Project to improve financing and investment opportunities in protected, living rainforests.
We encourage the Rainforests Project and the World Bank to work closely with the London Accord to move UK and International Treasuries and Central Banks, to adopt, issue and purchase climate, environment and socially responsible index-linked bonds.
The London Accord idea, as sketched out admirably in the Environmental Finance February Issue, is to issue sovereign bonds whose coupon rate is linked to climate and ESG policies. It’s pretty simple in practice: fail to meet your climate targets and your interest rate goes up. This type of market signal would allow investors in clean technologies, carbon offset projects and other climate mitigation and adapation businesses to hedge against government inaction and inspire governments, as the article suggests, to live up to their promises. In general, it helps to create a financial playing field tilted in favor of clean, green businesses, a prospect that would be cause for global celebration.
The April 2009 G20 communique was remarkable for its emphasis on climate, green jobs and a recovery powered by sustainable principles and business practice. Its concluding point was that: “We reaffirm our commitment to address the threat of irreversible climate change, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and to reach agreement at the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.”
Because of their influence on the G20 agreement and implementation, the Bank for International Settlements and the Financial Stability Board need to get involved. We all benefit if they will just take the time to more intimately familiarize themselves with the work of the London Accord, the World Bank and the Rainforests Project on these types of issues.
Reading through the London Accord’s remarkable research, it has occurred to me that Central Banks might well have to be the first movers on this front. As the largest purchasers of government debt, it may be up to them to signal to governments that they would be interested in these types of securities.
Some are despondent after Copenhagen, concerned that the pace of change is insufficient to address looming challenges. Constructive engagement with the central banking community may well prove instrumental to persuading sovereign nations of the wisdom (costs) of failing to confront climate change, the business issue of the millenium according to those at Davos. We can’t wait for them, but neither can we afford to ignore them.