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Breakingviews - Capital Calls: Bank of England goes green

A bird flies past The Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Concise insights on global finance in the Covid-19 era.

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CLIMATE WORRIERS. The Bank of England is taking on climate change. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has updated the central bank’s monetary policy remit and its target to support the government’s economic policies. Growth should now be “environmentally sustainable” and “consistent with the transition to a net zero economy”. The European Central Bank too is mulling similar moves: Banque de France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau last month gave a speech on the role of central banks in “greening the economy”.

Central banks could do a lot: they can stress test banks for climate exposures, or could use bond buying programmes to drive down funding costs for green companies. The BoE is moving in that direction: it said on Wednesday it will now adjust its 20 billion pound corporate bond programme to account for the climate impact of the companies’ whose bonds it holds. Yet investors are already piling into green bonds and other sustainable debt. The risk for central banks is that they end up distorting prices in an unhealthy way. They will probably err on the side of caution. (By Neil Unmack)

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