Climate change was already worrying enough — now a report from the U.S. central bank cautions that rising temperatures and extreme storms could eventually trigger a financial collapse.
A Federal Reserve researcher warned in a report on Monday that “climate-based risk could threaten the stability of the financial system as a whole.” But possible fixes — using the Fed’s buying power to green the economy — are currently against the law.
Glenn Rudebusch, the San Francisco Fed’s executive vice president for research, ranks climate change as one of the three “key forces transforming the economy,” along with an aging population and rapid advances in technology. Climate change could soon hit the banking system “by storms, droughts, wildfires, and other extreme events” making it harder for businesses to repay loans.
Rudebusch warns that crops and inundated cities have already started to hurt the economy: “Economists view these losses as the result of a fundamental market failure: carbon fuel prices do not properly account for climate change costs,” he writes. “Businesses and households that produce greenhouse gas emissions, say, by driving cars or generating electricity, do not pay for the losses and damage caused by that pollution.”
A hefty carbon tax alone wouldn’t be enough to fix the problem — what he calls an “intergenerational and international market failure.” [Continue reading…]