More Details Roll Out - Biden-Harris Administration's - “Whole of Government” Climate Policies & Actions

More Details Roll Out - Biden-Harris Administration's - “Whole of Government” Climate Policies & Actions

G&A's Sustainability Highlights (5.27.2021)
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Wednesday, June 2, 2021 - 10:00am

The Biden-Harris Administration continues to roll out details of new, proposed or adjusted policies, rules, programs, federal government financing plans (budgeting) and various actions to address what the leaders characterize as “the climate crisis”.

In most crisis situations for large organizations, dramatic changes-of-course are always necessary – new paths to be followed. President Joe Biden is ambitious in navigating the way forward for the public sector to meet the nation’s climate change challenges (for actions by federal, state, region, local governments). President Biden signed still another order for policy changes and various actions by the many agencies of the national government: “Executive Order #14030 on Climate-Related Financial Risk”.

The new EO #14030 issued May 20th sets out a range of policies and actions to be taken by the “whole” of the public sector; actions intended to be implemented in partnership with state and local governments, and financial services sector institutions, and corporate and business interests…”designed to “better protect workers’ hard-earned savings, create good paying jobs, and position America to lead the global economy”.

The EO builds on the framework for climate change policies and actions set out in President Biden’s January 27th action: “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Aboard” (that is EO #14008).

This and other execute branch orders are designed to “…spur creation of well-paying jobs and achieve a net-zero emissions economy no later than 2050”. The new EO is intended to “…bolster the resilience of financial institutions and rural and urban communities, states, tribes, territories…by marshalling the creativity, courage and capital of the United States…and address the climate crisis and not exacerbate its causes to position the U.S. to lead the global economy to a more prosperous and sustainable future…”

The order especially addresses the financial transparency of the financial services sector – suggesting changes affecting enterprises in banking, insurance, capital markets; addressing fiduciary duties of those managing assets; addressing the aspects of federal financing for business, governments and institutions, and, federal government budgeting both short- and long-term.

Example: The Secretary of the Treasury as chair is instructed to work with the other members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to assess climate-related risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system; to facilitate sharing of climate-related financial risk data among the agencies of members of FSOC; to publish a report in six months on actions / recommendations related to oversight of financial institutions.

FSOC members are the influentials of financial services regulation and oversight: Treasury Department; Office of Comptroller of the Currency (inside Treasury, overseeing national banks and foreign banks operating in the USA); chair of Securities & Exchange Commission; chair of Federal Reserve System; head of FDIC; head of Commodity Futures Trading Commission; as well as a state insurance commissioner; a state banking commissioner; a state securities commissioner.

Addressed in the Order: disclosure and reporting by publicly-traded entities; insurance industry “gaps” or climate-change issues that need to be addressed at federal and state levels for private insurance; the protection of “worker savings and pensions” (with ERISA and the Department of Labor in focus); Federal level lending and underwriting, including financial aid, loans, grants of such agencies as the Department of Agriculture (farm aid); Housing and Urban Development (funneling funds to local and state agencies as well as federal level financial transactions); and, Department of Veterans Affairs.

For companies providing services and products to the federal government (largest buyer in the United States), there are numerous policy changes and actions to be taken by agencies that will affect many businesses in the U.S. and abroad. Meaning: much more disclosure on GHG emissions data, adoption of science-based emissions reduction targets, and disclosure of ESG policies and actions by suppliers. Federal agencies will be guided by policies to look more favorably on companies that bid on contracts [and that have] more robust climate change policies and targets in place.

We bring you news coverage and shared perspectives on the important new order and a link to the EO Fact Sheet in our Top Stories.

Download the G&A Institute’s Resource Paper.

This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view the full issue.