June 3, 2018 / 11:28 PM / in 4 months

Britain should force companies to report climate risk exposure: lawmakers

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should force large companies, pension funds and other big investors to report their exposure to climate risks by 2022 at the latest, a cross-party group of lawmakers said in a report published on Monday.

Concerns in the investment community that assets are being mispriced because climate risk is not being factored into financial reporting have prompted demand for more transparent climate-related financial information.

The report said companies should examine and disclose how climate change could impact their businesses in the future, such as increased exposure to extreme weather events for insurance companies and the impact of physical disruptions to supply chains for companies in the agriculture sector.

Think-tank Climate Tracker has also warned that trillions of dollars are at risk globally due to so-called stranded assets, which include oil and gas reserves, that cannot be burnt if global climate targets are to be met.

“Climate change poses financial risks to a range of investments – from food and farming, to infrastructure, construction and insurance liability,” Mary Creagh, chair of the Environment Audit Committee, said in a statement published with the group’s report.

“The low-carbon transition also presents exciting opportunities in clean energy, transport and tech that could benefit UK businesses,” she said.

The report said the government has encouraged publicly listed companies to report climate risk but said a voluntary approach is ineffective.

“The government should make climate risk reporting mandatory on a ‘comply or explain’ basis by 2022,” the report said.

A spokesman for Britain’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said Britain was a world leader in green finance and had cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 percent since 1990.

Last year the government also set up a green finance task force of financial experts, including London Stock Exchange CEO Nikhil Rathi, to look at ways to help boost jobs and investment in the low-carbon sector.

“We’ll consider the findings of this report alongside our review of the Green Finance Taskforce’s proposals to encourage companies to put greater emphasis on environmental considerations when making decisions,” the spokesman said by email.

There is growing international momentum behind moves to encourage financial reporting on sustainability.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development last week published guidance for companies reporting on the physical impact of climate change in their financial results.

Reporting By Susanna Twidale; Editing by Susan Fenton

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