Harper Endorses Report Identifying Climate Change as Systemic Risk

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Federal financial regulators, including National Credit Union Administration Chairman Todd Harper, on Thursday endorsed a plan to ensure that agency rules and policies address the risks of climate change.

The Financial Stability Oversight Council adopted a Treasury Department report that identifies climate change as a serious risk to the financial stability of the nation.

As chairman of the NCUA, Harper is a member of the council. At a Thursday meeting of the council, Harper said that the NCUA has established a climate risk working group. “There remains a tremendous amount of work to do,” he said.

In the report, FSOC said that members agencies should review existing regulations, guidance and regulatory reporting to determine if updates are needed to appropriately address climate-related financial risks. The council also said that agencies should evaluate whether any new regulations are needed to clarify expectations for financial institutions.

FSOC officials said that the council will form a staff-level committee to help coordinate and share agency efforts. A separate advisory committee will be charged with gathering information about climate-related financial risks from various stakeholders.

Harper has said he views climate change as a systemic risk to the credit union system. The two Republican board members, Kyle Hauptman and Rodney Hood have not publicly addressed the issue.

Sources have said that the NCUA board members were not able to agree on a climate change statement that would have been included as part of the agency Strategic Plan. That disagreement has caused a delay in the release of that plan, the sources said.

One Republican had a swift reaction to the FSOC report. Senate Banking Committee ranking Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said he has not seen any evidence to support FSOC’s “audacious claim that global warming is a legitimate threat to bring down the entire global financial system.”

“Continuing down a path of misusing financial regulation to achieve liberal policy objectives sets a very dangerous precedent,” Toomey added.

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  • A veteran Washington reporter, David spent four years as Washington correspondent for the Credit Union Times before starting Washington Credit Union Daily. He has spent his career writing and editing for many of the capital’s leading publications, including CongressDaily, National Journal magazine and Congressional Quarterly Weekly. He was part of a team that won a 2005 National Headliner Award for a special issue of National Journal on “The State of Congress.” He holds a B.A. in political science from The George Washington University and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.

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