Why the Principles for Managing Climate-Related Financial Risks is a game-changer for banks

August 25, 2023
Tom Herbstein
4 mins read

The banking sector plays a critical role in the global economy, and as the effects of climate change become increasingly evident, it is imperative for banks to adapt their practices to address climate-related financial risks . In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need for a comprehensive framework to guide banks in managing these risks. The “Principles for the effective management and supervision of climate-related financial risks” by Basel Committee have emerged as a game-changer in this regard.

Understanding the Significance of Climate-Related Financial Risks

Climate-related financial risks refer to the risks that arise from climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy. These risks encompass physical risks, such as damage from extreme weather events, as well as transition risks, such as policy changes and shifts in market preferences. The banking sector is exposed to these risks through its lending and investment activities, as well as its role as a provider of financial services to businesses and individuals.

The Emergence of the Principles for Managing Climate-Related Financial Risks

The Principles for the effective management and supervision of climate-related financial risks were developed by the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), an international group of central banks and supervisors. These principles aim to provide guidance to banks on how to integrate climate-related risks into their governance, risk management, and disclosure practices.
The NGFSBasel Committee published the first version of these principles in 202219, and they have since gained significant traction in the banking sector. The principles have been endorsed by numerous central banks and financial regulators worldwide, signaling a global consensus on the importance of managing climate-related financial risks.

Five Key Reasons Why the Principles are a Game Changer

The principles represent a paradigm shift in the way banks approach climate-related financial risks. Here are five key reasons why they are a game-changer for the banking sector:

1. Enhanced Risk Management

The principles provide a comprehensive framework for banks to assess, measure, and manage climate-related risks. By integrating climate-related risks into their existing risk management practices, banks can better identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities in their portfolios. This proactive approach to risk management enhances the resilience of banks and protects them from potential losses associated with climate-related events.

2. Improved Governance and Accountability

The principles emphasize the importance of board-level oversight and accountability in managing climate-related financial risks. Banks are encouraged to establish clear roles and responsibilities for climate-related risk management and to integrate these responsibilities into their existing governance structures. This ensures that climate-related risks are given due consideration at the highest levels of decision-making within banks.

3. Enhanced Scenario Analysis

The principles call for banks to conduct scenario analysis to assess the potential impact of different climate-related scenarios on their portfolios. This analysis helps banks understand how their assets and liabilities may be affected by physical and transition risks, enabling them to make informed strategic decisions. By incorporating climate-related scenarios into their stress testing exercises, banks can ensure that they are adequately prepared for a range of potential outcomes.

4. Strengthened Disclosure Practices

Transparency is a key element of the principles, with banks encouraged to disclose their climate-related financial risks and the measures they are taking to manage them. This enhanced disclosure enables stakeholders, including investors, regulators, and the public, to assess the resilience of banks to climate-related risks and make informed decisions. It also promotes market discipline and encourages banks to align their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

5. Alignment with International Standards

The principles align with international standards, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. This alignment ensures consistency and comparability in the way banks assess and disclose climate-related risks. It also facilitates coordination among banks and regulators globally, enabling the development of a harmonized approach to managing climate-related financial risks.

The Road Ahead: Implementing the Principles

While the principles have started to gain already gained significant traction in the banking sector, their successful implementation remains a challenge. Banks need to develop the necessary capabilities and expertise to effectively manage climate-related financial risks. This includes building internal capacity, developing robust data and analytical tools, and integrating climate-related risks into their decision-making processes.
Regulators also play a crucial role in facilitating the implementation of the principles. They need to provide clear guidance and expectations to banks, establish supervisory frameworks that incorporate climate-related risks, and promote collaboration and information sharing among banks and regulators.


The principles for managing climate-related financial risks represent a significant milestone for banking supervisory regulation on in the banking sector’s response to climate change. By integrating climate-related risks into their practices, banks can enhance their risk management capabilities, improve governance and accountability, and strengthen their disclosure practices. The principles provide a roadmap for banks to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change and contribute to a more sustainable and resilient financial system. As the banking sector continues to evolve, the principles will serve as a guiding framework for banks to manage climate-related financial risks effectively.

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